'Enemy combatant' al-Marri to be tried in US criminal court

[JURIST] Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri [NYT profile; JURIST news archive], a suspected Al Qaeda operative held in the Navy brig in South Carolina since 2003, is to be officially charged and tried in US federal court, according to news reports. Al-Marri, a legal US resident, was arrested in December 2001 in Peoria, Illinois and charged with being part of a terrorist sleeper cell and is the only person held as an enemy combatant in the United States. He is expected to be charged with providing material aid to terrorists. The move comes just two months before the Supreme Court is to hold hearings on al-Marri's petition [cert. petition, PDF] for habeas corpus. The government is expected to ask for dismissal [SCOTUSblog post] of the case as being moot but al-Marri's lawyer Jonathan Hafetz said he will oppose [press release] a dismissal and ask for a ruling on the merits:

If true, the decision to charge al-Marri is an important step in restoring the rule of law and is what should have happened seven years ago when he was first arrested. But it is vital that the Supreme Court case go forward because it must be made clear once and for all that indefinite military detention of persons arrested in the U.S. is illegal and that this will never happen again.
In January 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order [press release; JURIST report] directing a review of his case. Al-Marri has previously claimed he was abused in detention [JURIST report]. Previously, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had issued a ruling upholding [JURIST report] al-Marri's detention as an enemy combatant as lawful and within presidential power.

3:15 PM ET - The federal grand jury indictment [text] of al-Marri was unsealed [DOJ press release] Friday. He is formally charged with two counts of providing material support to al Qaeda and conspiring with others to provide material support to al Qaeda. The Justice Department says the Solicitor General will now move to dismiss al-Marri's pending litigation before the US Supreme Court.

6:30 PM ET - The government has filed a motion [text, PDF] to dismiss al-Marri's pending litigation before the US Supreme Court.


 

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