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Al-Marri pleads not guilty to terrorism charges

[JURIST] Suspected al Qaeda operative Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri [case materials; JURIST news archive] pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of providing material support to al Qaeda, and his trial date was set for May 26. At an arraignment hearing before the US District Court for the Central District of Illinois [official website], Judge Michael Mihm also made several evidentiary rulings. Mihn acknowledged that the trial start date will likely be pushed back [Chicago Tribune report], but still expects the trial to begin this sometime this year. An April 14 date was set for a review of evidence submitted [Peoria Star Journal report].

Last week, a South Carolina judge ruled that al-Marri must remain in prison [JURIST report] during his trial, holding that he had not proven he was not a danger to the community. Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] granted [order, PDF; JURIST report] a motion [text, PDF] by the US government to dismiss as moot an appeal challenging al-Marri's indefinite detention, following the Obama administration's decision to try al-Marri in US federal court [JURIST report]. Al-Marri was indicted [indictment text; DOJ press release] earlier this month on two charges of providing material support to al Qaeda and conspiring with others to provide material support to al Qaeda. In January, shortly after taking office, President Barack Obama ordered an immediate review [JURIST report] of al-Marri's detention. Al-Marri was arrested at his home in Peoria, Illinois by civilian authorities in 2001, and was indicted for other crimes. In 2003, then-President George W. Bush declared him an enemy combatant [CNN report] and ordered the attorney general to transfer custody of al-Marri to the defense secretary, claiming inherent authority to hold him indefinitely. Until recently, al-Marri was detained on a US Navy brig in South Carolina.

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