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Charges sworn against Guantanamo Bay detainee Majid Shoukat Khan

Guantanamo Bay

A Pakistani national held since 2006 at Guantanamo Bay suspected of helping Al Qaeda plan attacks in the U.S. and Indonesia has been officially charged by the U.S. military commission responsible for his prosecution.

The U.S. Defense Department said on Feb. 14 that military commission charges have been sworn against Majid Shoukat Khan, a Pakistani national who lived in the United States from 1996 to early 2002 before returning to Pakistan. He is now officially faces conspiracy, murder and attempted murder charges, in violation of the law of war, providing material support for terrorism, and spying, said the department. 

The charges allege that Khan joined with members of al Qaeda in Pakistan to plan and prepare attacks against diverse targets in the U.S. Indonesia, and elsewhere after Sept. 11, 2001.

More specifically, Khan allegedly used a false travel document to travel from his residence in Baltimore, Md., to Karachi, Pakistan, in January of 2002 to conspire with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a plot to blow-up underground gasoline storage tanks at gas stations in the U.S.

Khan also allegedly recorded a “martyr video” at Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s direction, put on an explosive vest and sat in a mosque waiting for Pakistani President Pervez  Musharraf to arrive so he could assassinate him. The plot which was foiled when Musharraf failed to arrive, said the Defense Department.

The charges also allege that in 2002, Khan traveled from Pakistan to Baltimore where he bought a laptop computer for Al Qaeda and contacted a military recruiter to get materials regarding the U.S. military that he planned to giver to Mohammed.

He returned to Pakistan in August 2002, said the charges, where he worked directly for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ali Abdul al-Aziz Ali, and other al Qaeda associates. At the direction of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ali Abdul al-Aziz Ali, traveled with his wife in December of 2002 from Pakistan to Bangkok, Thailand, where he evaded notice by posing as a tourist. In Bangkok, he allegedly delivered $50,000 in Al Qaeda funds that were funneled to a southeast Asia-based al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah. The money allegedly funded the Aug. 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. That attack killed eleven people, wounding at least eighty-one others, and severely damaging the hotel.

In accordance with the Military Commissions Act of 2009, Chief Prosecutor Mark Martins forwarded the charges to Convening Authority Bruce MacDonald with a recommendation that the charges be referred to military commission for trial, said the DoD.  By separate action, Martins also assigned Courtney Sullivan of the Justice Department as trial counsel in the case and Army Lt. Col. Michael Hosang and Navy Lt. Nathaniel Gross as assistant trial counsel. 

DoD said Martins hasn’t recommended any of the charges be referred to a military commission that can assign the death penalty to Khan. It said the maximum allowable penalty for the charged offenses is life imprisonment.

MacDonald will determine whether to refer some, all, or none of the charges to trial by military commission, said DoD.  If MacDonal decides to refer the case to trial, he will designate commission panel members who function as jurors.  The chief trial judge of the Military Commissions Trial Judiciary would also detail a military judge to the case, said DoD.


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