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Guantanamo detainee pleads guilty before military tribunal

A Sudanese terrorism suspect held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] pleaded guilty [press release] on Wednesday before a military judge to charges of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism. Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] admitted that he supported al Qaeda [JURIST news archive] since 1996 in their hostilities against the US, acting as the terrorist group's cook and accountant in the 1990s and as a bodyguard [AP report] for Osama bin Laden [JURIST news archive] in later years. He was also accused of being Bin Laden's driver and helping him escape to the mountains of Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001. Al Qosi's plea marks the fourth time [Reuters report] a Guantanamo Bay detainee has been convicted by a military tribunal [JURIST news archive] since the detention center opened its doors in 2002 and the first time a captive has been convicted since the Obama administration pledged to shut the center down in 2009. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] reiterated its call to end military commissions and try Guantanamo detainees in civilian courts. Al Qosi's sentencing is scheduled to take place on August 9 before a panel of military officers, and he could face a sentence of up to life in prison or could be sentenced to time served.

Al Qosi has been detained at Guantanamo since he was transferred there from Afghanistan in 2002. In December, a military judge ruled [opinion, PDF] that the US government could partially amend the charges [JURIST report] against al Qosi by changing his jurisdictional basis but could not include four additional years of alleged activities under the charges. In October, military judges granted continuances [JURIST report] for prosecutors in the case against al Qosi, as well as in the case against Noor Uthman Mohammed [DOD materials]. At the time, it was expected that the continuances would make way for a decision on whether to hold the remaining Guantanamo detainee proceedings in civilian or military court.

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