A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|06/11/02 at 06:32:56|
It begs the question that if they have all this evidence to hold him, why don't they charge him?
For us outsiders looking in, how are we to know whether he is innocent or guilty unless he faces a fair trial?
Detained American Al Qaeda Operative Has Few Rights
Mon Jun 10, 5:25 PM ET
By Deborah Charles
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government's decision to declare a suspected American al Qaeda operative an "enemy combatant" means he can be held indefinitely and questioned without an attorney present.
U.S. officials said Monday they have transferred Abdullah al Muhajir, a suspected American al Qaeda operative believed to have been planning an attack on the United States with a radiation-spreading "dirty bomb," to Defense Department custody one month after he was arrested.
Al Muhajir, a 31-year-old U.S. citizen born in New York as Jose Padilla, was never charged after being detained at Chicago O'Hare International Airport by federal officials on May 8 as he arrived from Pakistan.
President Bush Sunday approved a recommendation by Attorney General John Ashcroft to declare Muhajir an "enemy combatant" and transfer him from Justice Department custody to the Defense Department, officials said.
He has been taken to the naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, where he will be questioned by military interrogators. Since he has not been charged with anything, he is not entitled to have any attorney present, officials said.
The announcement sparked criticism from rights groups.
"If the government has sufficient evidence of criminal conduct of a United States citizen, then it should charge him in U.S. courts," the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement.
"For the United States to maintain its moral authority in the fight against terrorism, its actions must be implemented in accordance with core American legal and social values," added ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero.
A SERIOUS AND CONTINUING THREAT
The decision to declare al Muhajir an "enemy combatant" was made because he posed a serious and continuing threat to the American people and to national security, U.S. officials said.
"Under the laws of war, Padilla's activities and his association with al Qaeda make him an enemy combatant," said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. "For this reason, Jose Padilla has been turned over to the Department of Defense."
The United States blames Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda guerrilla network for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States that killed about 3,000 people.
A dirty bomb is a conventional explosive device wrapped in or laced with radioactive material.
As an American citizen, al Muhajir will not face trial in military tribunals that were created after Sept. 11 to try foreign terrorism suspects outside the U.S. court system, Justice Department officials said.
However, as an enemy combatant, al Muhajir can be held "at least until the end of the war" without the right to an attorney, said Army Col. Rivers Johnson, a Pentagon spokesman.
U.S. officials often refer to the "war on terrorism," although there never has been an official declaration of war against Afghanistan or any nation.
"In determining that al Muhajir is an enemy combatant who legally can be detained by the United States military, we have acted with legal authority both under the laws of war and clear Supreme Court precedent which establishes that the military may detain a United States citizen who has joined the enemy and who has entered our country to carry out hostile acts," Ashcroft said.
"We are conducting a war against al Qaeda," said a Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He is considered an al Qaeda operative, and that's why he's considered an enemy combatant."
The Defense Department also is holding Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American-born Saudi national detained in Afghanistan, at a Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia. He has not been charged, and the government is wrangling in the courts over whether he has the right to be represented by a public defender.
About 300 al Qaeda and Taliban captives, detained during the Afghanistan war launched following the Sept. 11 attacks, are being held at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The United States accused Afghanistan's now-deposed Taliban rulers of harboring bin Laden and al Qaeda.
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