Majid Khan, a Pakistani national as well as a high-profile detainee at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, has pleaded guilty to terror charges at a military tribunal hearing on Wednesday under a deal reached with the prosecution.
In line with the plea deal, Majid pleaded guilty to five war crimes, including murder, attempted murder and spying. He also agreed not to sue the U.S. government for his alleged treatment while under custody at a secret overseas prison and later at Guantanamo.
The tribunal was told about the guilty plea by Khan's military lawyer Lt. Col. Jon Jackson at the start of Wednesday's proceedings. Khan then answered in the affirmative when asked by the judge whether he agreed with the plea statement.
According to U.S. media reports, the plea requires Khan to provide "complete and accurate information in interviews, depositions and testimony wherever and whenever requested by the prosecutors." Khan's sentencing has been deferred until 2016 to ensure that he complies fully with the plea deal.
If Khan cooperates with the prosecutors as per his plea agreement, he will not serve more than 25 years in prison. The agreed prison term is in addition to the nine years he had already spent in detention. Khan, however, could end up with a life term if he fails to cooperate with the prosecutors as agreed under the deal.
During Wednesday's hearing, Khan denied meeting or speaking to slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Nevertheless, he admitted to involvement in in a "conspiracy" in Pakistan, Thailand and Indonesia.
The court documents indicate that Khan is accused of couriering about $50,000 to al-Qaeda associates to fund the August 2003 suicide bombing of the Marriott hotel in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, conspiring to launch terror strikes in the United States including poisoning water reservoirs and plotting to carry out a suicide attack to assassinate former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
He was first arrested in March 2003 after Pakistani forces raided his family's home in Karachi. Khan was then handed over to the CIA, which in turn held him in a secret overseas prison before transferring him along with other high-value detainees to Guantanamo in 2006.
Khan, who had twice attempted to commit suicide while at Guantanamo, told a military tribunal in 2007 that he had been "psychologically tortured" by his interrogators. He had also denied having any links with al-Qaeda.
Under the plea deal, Khan is likely to testify against several other high-profile Guantanamo detainees, including Khaled Sheikh Mohammed-- the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Khan is accused of meeting him while in Pakistan and conspiring with him to launch terror strikes in the U.S.
With his guilty plea entered on Wednesday, Khan became the seventh Guantanamo detainee to be convicted on terror charges. Nonetheless, his plea deal was the first ever reached with a high-value detainee, who was previously held by the CIA at a secret prison overseas, in exchange for a lenient sentencing.
The Guantanamo detention center was opened in late 2001 at the U.S. naval base in Cuba soon after the 9/11 terror attacks to lodge terror suspects from around the world. U.S. authorities have released more than 525 detainees from the prison camp since 2002, but some 171 still remain there.
Although U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to close down the prison by the beginning of 2010 shortly after he took office in January 2009, he missed the deadline due to political and diplomatic hurdles. Subsequently, Obama ordered the resumption of military trials for the suspected terrorists being held there and issued new guidelines on their treatment and trials.
by RTT Staff Writer
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