Al Qaeda enemy combatant confesses guilt in Illinois

NY Times:

During the nearly six years that Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri spent in isolation in a Navy brig as the last enemy combatant held on United States soil, he denied the government’s charges that he was a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda, his lawyers said. But on Thursday, in a federal courtroom in Peoria, Ill., that denial fell apart when Mr. Marri reached a deal with the government to plead guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda.

In the 20-page plea agreement — which substantially reduced the possible prison sentence against him — Mr. Marri admitted having attended terrorist training camps from 1998 to 2001 and taking courses in the “use of various weapons and basic operational security tradecraft.”

He admitted meeting with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was at the time the external operations chief for the Qaeda organization, and “offered his services.” Mr. Mohammed, according to the agreement, told Mr. Marri “to enter the United States no later than Sept. 10, 2001” and await further instructions.

Mr. Marri, a native of Qatar, and his family did arrive in the United States on Sept. 10, and he enrolled at Bradley University in Peoria, which he had attended on an earlier stay in the United States. While there, he admitted, he “researched online information related to various cyanide compounds” and communicated in code with Qaeda operatives; investigators found an almanac with bookmarked pages showing dams, waterways and tunnels in the United States.

Mr. Marri was initially indicted this year on two counts related to providing material support and resources to a terrorist organization, each of which carries a maximum 15-year sentence; the plea to a single count means that his sentence could be cut in half, after which he could be deported to Qatar.

It was a cheap plea bargain by a justice department eager to show "success" using lawfare. But the light sentence is not one that will deter future terrorist. We should have sent this guy to Gitmo and kept him there until the end of the war.


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