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Federal prosecutors drop charges against Osama Bin Laden

Federal prosecutors in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] dropped all charges [indictment text] against al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden [JURIST news archive] in a filing [text] made Friday. The judge approved the procedural move, which is typical upon the death of a defendant. The nolle prosequi motion listed the hundreds of charges against Bin Laden and explained the government's proof of his death.

Shortly after the Abbottabad Raid, US forces collected DNA samples from the body of the deceased individual assessed to be Bin Laden. Those DNA samples were then transported from Abbottabad, Pakistan to U.S. military facilities in Afghanistan, where they were immediately provided to DoD and CIA personnel for processing and comparison. CIA and DoD conducted DNA tests, during which the sample from the Abbottabad Raid was compared with a comprehensive DNA profile derived from DNA collected from multiple members of BIN LADEN's family. These tests confirmed that the sample from the Abbottabad Raid genetically matched the derived comprehensive DNA profile for Usama Bin Laden. The possibility of a mistaken identification is approximately one in 11.8 quadrillion.
Bin Laden was killed [JURIST report] in early May by American military forces in Pakistan. Bin Laden had topped the US list of Most Wanted Terrorists [FBI backgrounder] and is believed to have approved or helped plan many notorious terror attacks including those against New York and Washington DC on September 11, 2001, the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole [JURIST news archives], attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania [PBS backgrounder] in 1998 and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

As founder and leader of al Qaeda [JURIST news archive], Bin Laden represents the highest profile terror target captured or killed by the US. Last month, the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced that alleged former al Qaeda chief in the Arabian Peninsula and accused mastermind of the USS Cole bombing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [JURIST news archive] will be tried in a military court [JURIST report] rather than in a civilian criminal court. Also last month, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC report; JURIST news archive], a high-ranking al Qaeda member whom US officials say was principally responsible for planning the 9/11 attacks, will be tried by a military tribunal [JURIST report] as well. Mohammed has also admitted involvement in the 2002 beheading [JURIST report] of US journalist Daniel Pearl [JURIST news archive], the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The detention and treatment of accused al Qaeda members held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] has generated controversy in the US and throughout the world [JURIST reports].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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