A man suspected of providing material support to al Qaeda has been transferred from military to civilian custody and charged in a two-count indictment.
President Obama had ordered a review of the status of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri leading to him being charged by the Justice Department.
Al-Marri, 43, is charged in a federal grand jury indictment that was unsealed today with providing material support to al Qaeda and conspiring with others to provide material support to the terrorist organization. If convicted, al-Marri, a dual national of Saudi Arabia and Qatar could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.
“This indictment shows our resolve to protect the American people and prosecute alleged terrorists to the full extent of the law,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “In this administration, we will hold accountable anyone who attempts to do harm to Americans and we will do so in a manner consistent with our values.”
On January 22, 2009, Obama ordered Holder to lead an inter agency review of the case against al-Marri, who was being held by the military. After the indictment was issued, the president ordered that al-Marri be transferred from the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina to the custody of the Justice Department to face criminal prosecution. President Bush had ordered al-Marri detained as an enemy combatant.
The change is a significant one because it brings into the open the treatment and prosecution of those charged with acts of terrorism or support of terrorism. Something Obama pledged to do during the campaign.
This is good news for the American people and those around the world who have been critical of the way the United States has, in the past, treated prisoners. It also assures those charged that they will enjoy a fair trial in the U.S. system of jurisprudence.
Some people fear that information that could be damaging to national security might be made public during trials in civilian criminal courts. But judges have the discretion to keep such critical information out of open court.
More importantly, the public will be educated about the threat that terrorists pose to the United States homeland. It's important that we remain vigilant against the possibility of terrorism and supportive of efforts to prevent additional terrorist attacks both in the United States and abroad.Al-Marri entered the United States on September 10, 2001, purportedly to pursue a second bachelor’s degree at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. He was held as a material witness in the investigation of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was then indicted in by a grand jury on charges of credit card fraud, false statements and identity fraud. But in June, 2003, President Bush declared him an enemy combatant and he was transferred to the Naval Brig where he has been detained since.
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