As the Obama administration responds to criticism of Guantanamo Bay with fervent vows to close the prison facility in Cuba, the Pentagon announced charges against one of the high-value detainees held there.
Military commissions have been ongoing yet are still very much in the pretrial hearing stage for professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, believed to have masterminded the USS Cole attack.
This week the Defense Department announced that Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, an Iraqi national held by the U.S. since 2006, will face perfidy charges — an offense in which those who are the targets of attack are killed, injured, or captured after the attackers have “invit[ed] the confidence or belief… that [the attackers] were entitled to… protection under the laws of war.”
Abd al Hadi, as a senior member of al-Qaeda, is charged in a series of attacks in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2004.
The government charges that he had joined al-Qaeda by 1996, “that, in furtherance of the group’s hostile and terrorist aims, he served as a high-ranking leader on various senior councils that set al Qaeda’s agenda and policies; that he was a significant al Qaeda liaison to the Taliban, to al Qaeda in Iraq, and to other allied groups; that Abd al Hadi directed his fighters to kill all coalition soldiers encountered during their attacks, thereby denying quarter to potential captive or wounded coalition soldiers.”
“Following his tenure as commander of al Qaeda’s insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the charges allege that Abd al Hadi continued his liaison role with al Qaeda in Iraq and was ultimately assigned by Usama bin Laden to travel to Iraq to assume a position among the leadership of al Qaeda’s insurgency there,” the Pentagon said.
Abd al Hadi faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.
The convening authority will now weigh the charges to determine if they’ll be referred to a military commission.
The announcement came a day before the White House threatened to veto the House version of the defense reauthorization bill because, in part, because provisions within “would continue unwise funding restrictions that would prohibit the construction or modification of a detention facility in the United States to house Guantanamo detainees, and would constrain our ability to transfer Guantanamo detainees, including those who have already been designated for transfer to other countries.”
“Operating the facility at Guantanamo weakens our national security by wasting resources, damaging our relationships with key allies, and reinforcing propaganda used by al-Qaeda to attack the United States and our values,” OMB said.