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Guantanamo detainee pleads guilty to terror charges before military tribunal

Sudanese Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Noor Uthman Mohammed [DOD materials] pleaded guilty [press release] before a military tribunal Tuesday to terrorism charges. Mohammed entered guilty pleas [Reuters report] to one count of providing material support of terrorism and one count of conspiracy. The charges against him stem from meetings with al Qaeda and his service as a weapons instructor and manager at the Khaden military camp in Afghanistan, where hijackers and other members of al Qaeda trained prior to the 9/11 attacks. Mohammed was charged [JURIST report; charge sheet, PDF] in May 2008 and has been detained at Guantanamo since his capture in Pakistan in 2002. Prior to the plea agreement, the details of which have not been released, Mohammed faced life in prison if convicted of the charges against him. A jury, consisting of at least five US military officers will now be chosen to issue a sentence in the hearing, set to begin this week.

Earlier this month, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] used the death of a Guantanamo detainee to highlight what it claims are problems [JURIST report] with the detention system currently used by the US for dealing with suspected terrorists. The detainee, Awal Gul, had been at the Guantanamo Bay detention center since October 2002, suspected of having aided the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan [DOD press release, PDF]. Gul died of an apparent heart attack after he had completed some aerobic exercises. The CCR believes that the circumstances surrounding Gul's death illustrate the inherent problem with the detention center and the policy the US follows in detaining and indefinitely holding suspected terrorists, claiming that the facility has become a purgatory, where people are held indefinitely. As the number of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility decreases, the issue of what to do with those remaining in US custody continues to be a significant issue. In January, Human Rights Watch criticized President Barack Obama [JURIST report] for failing to shut down the facility as he promised during the 2008 presidential campaign.

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