A Sudanese prisoner linked to al-Qaeda pleaded guilty on Tuesday to terrorism charges in the war crimes tribunal at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay.
Defendant Noor Uthman Muhammed was accused of being a weapons instructor and logistics manager at the Khaldan paramilitary camp in Afghanistan, where some of the Sept. 11 hijackers and other al-Qaeda operatives trained. He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring with al-Qaeda and providing material support for terrorism.
Noor, as he asked the court to call him, could have faced life in prison if convicted at trial. His plea agreement sets a shorter cap on his sentence on the condition that he cooperate in other prosecutions.
Noor "admitted, in open court, to providing material support to terrorism and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism," Lieutenant Colonel Tanya Bradsher said in a statement.
According to Al Arabiya correspondent Muna Shikaki, Noor agreed to testify against Abu Zubaydah, a top al-Qaeda operative who orchestrated the terrorist plots against the LAX airport in California and tourist spots in Jordan. Noor could see his sentence reduced to as little as three years.
Noor was a deputy commander of the Khaldan camp from 1996 until it was shut down in 2000, according to the charges against him. He was one of several Guantanamo prisoners captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan in March 2002, in a raid that netted Abu Zubaydah.
Noor's age is not known. He is the third Guantanamo prisoner to plead guilty during the administration of President Barack Obama, who criticized the Guantanamo tribunals as a candidate, tweaked them as president and tried unsuccessfully to shut down the detention camp.
Three other prisoners were convicted during the administration of President George W. Bush, who set up the camp in 2002 to hold, interrogate and try foreign captives suspected of links to al Qaeda and their Taliban protectors in Afghanistan.
Noor's plea resolves the last outstanding charges currently pending in the tribunals at the Guantanamo base, which has held nearly 800 captives and now holds 172.
A jury of at least five U.S. military officers will be chosen to issue a sentence. But as long as Noor honors his agreement to cooperate, he will not serve a sentence that exceeds the cap in the sealed plea deal.