The Pentagon announced Thursday its decision to refer Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, a former aide to Osama bin laden, to military court in Guantanamo Bay on charges of war crimes. Nashiri is considered the former al-Qaeda’s leader most prominent aide and is suspected of masterminding the bombing of U.S. navy ship Cole in Yemen in 2000; 17 American soldiers died as a result of that attack.
The 46-year-old Nashiri has been detained in Guantanamo Bay since 2006 and is one of three detainees the U.S. government has admitted to torturing. He is also accused of planning the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
If Nashiri is found guilty, he could be executed.
His lawyers, however, are demanding charges against their client be dropped since he was subjected to torture as stated by a CIA report. According to the report, CIA agents threatened to kill him using a power drill close to his head in a tactic known as “simulated execution.”
Nashiri’s lawyers say their client confessed to charges under torture.
An amendment in the military law brought about by President Barack Obama’s administration makes it illegal to submit as evidence material gained through torture.
Revelations about torture under interrogation comes at a time when Obama’s administration renews its vows to close Guantanamo Bay which holds 171 detainees. It also said it plans to prosecute the alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh and four other detainees as well as charge around 30 detainees.
In his new book The Black Banners, Arab-American FBI agent Ali Soufan writes about the history of al-Qaeda and the relationship between Nashiri and Bin Laden. According to Soufan, Nashiri was living in the United Arab Emirates in when he was arrested in 2002 in Dubai and transferred to a secret CIA detention center. He is alleged to have been with a prostitute when he was arrested.
(This article was translated from Arabic by Stanela Khalil.)