Thursday, February 26, 2009

Enemy Combatant Sent to Illinois for Trial

He'll probably be received warmly in the Home Office of Hopenchange. Maybe he can break bread with Bill Ayers while he's there.
An accused al-Qaida sleeper agent held for 5-1/2 years at a Navy brig in South Carolina will soon be sent to Illinois for trial in civilian court, a move the government has fought for years saying terror suspects caught in the U.S. could be held indefinitely without charges.

Two people familiar with the case of Qatar native Ali al-Marri said Thursday the government plans to transfer him to the civilian court system. One of them said he would be charged with providing support to terrorists. The two people spoke on condition of anonymity because it's a pending criminal case.

The transfer could avert a Supreme Court hearing in April and a subsequent ruling that would govern other cases against accused terrorists. Al-Marri's transfer is the first signal of how the Obama administration is likely to handle accused terrorists, a significant shift from the strategy of the Bush administration.

Since shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, government lawyers argued that the president has the wartime authority to send the military into any U.S. neighborhood, capture a citizen—or legal resident like al-Marri—and hold him in prison without charge, indefinitely.

Putting al-Marri into the federal court system follows a similar move made by the Bush administration with another enemy combatant, Jose Padilla. Padilla, once held at the same brig as al-Marri, was eventually convicted of terror-related charges in federal court in Florida.

The decision on al-Marri was reported separately Thursday by the Web sites of The Washington Post and The New Yorker magazine.

Al-Marri was the subject of one of President Barack Obama's first official acts, signing an executive order for "a prompt and thorough" review of al-Marri's continued detention.

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