Friday, May 01, 2009

AL-QAEDA 'AGENT' IN US COURT PLEA

Ali al-Marri, file image
Mr Marri is said to have met top al-Qaeda leaders and attended camps

A man accused of being a sleeper agent for al-Qaeda has pleaded guilty in the US to conspiring to provide material support for terrorism.

Ali al-Marri, a dual Saudi-Qatari national, was arrested two months after the attacks of 11 September 2001.

Prosecutors said he had met top al-Qaeda figures, who sent him to the US to help plan further attacks.

He was held for nearly six years as an "enemy combatant" in a military jail, before being charged in a civil court.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said that the case was "a grim reminder of the seriousness of the threat we as a nation still face".

"But it also reflects what we can achieve when we have faith in our criminal justice system and are unwavering in our commitment to... the rule of law," he said.

Ali al-Marri, a married father of five, admitted the charge as part of a plea deal.

Prosecutors said he made contact with top al-Qaeda leaders in 1998 and then went on to attend training camps in Pakistan.

He entered the US on 10 September 2001 on a student visa.

While studying, he carried out research into poisons and the location of US dams, waterways and tunnels, prosecutors said.

He was arrested in December 2001 and charged with credit card fraud.

In 2003 the Bush administration labelled him an "enemy combatant" and held him in a military base in South Carolina.

In December 2008 the Supreme Court agreed to review the legality of his detention.

But two months later, after President Barack Obama took office, he was formally charged by a federal court with supporting a foreign terror group.

A second charge against him was dropped as part of the plea deal.

He faces up to 15 years imprisonment and will be sentenced on 30 June.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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