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Iraq national pleads guilty to conspiring to aid terrorists

An Iraqi man pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the Western District of Kentucky [official website] Tuesday on charges of conspiring to aid terrorists. Mohaned Shareef Hammadi [JURIST news archive] pleaded guilty to 10 charges [AP report] including sending money, weapons and explosives to al Qaeda in Iraq. Hammadi also pleaded guilty to two counts of lying to the US government about his association with al Qaeda. In May 2011 Hammadi and co-conspirator Waad Ramadan Alwan were arrested [BBC report] in Kentucky, where they had taken up residence, and were charged with conspiring to send weapons to Iraq and to kill Americans abroad. Hammadi and Alwan are two of only a handful of foreign nationals prosecuted in the US for alleged terrorism offenses [JURIST report] in a US-occupied territory such as Iraq or Afghanistan during wartime. Hammadi is scheduled to be sentenced on December 5. Alwan is scheduled to be sentenced in October. Both men face possible life sentences.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [official website] and others have also objected to holding the trials of Alwan and Hammadi in federal court, but they have cited security concerns and said they should be prosecuted before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder]. McConnell and others also have said the defendants do not deserve the full protection of the Bill of Rights accorded to civilian defendants. US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] has consistently advocated [JURIST report] that terror suspects should be tried in civilian courts, though has not found support from Congress. In April, Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and four other co-conspirators will be tried before a military commission [JURIST report] for their roles in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Holder, who wanted the accused be tried before a federal civilian court [JURIST report], referred the cases to the Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] after Congress imposed a series of restrictions [JURIST report] barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the US.

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