Judicial Watch to Monitor Guantanamo Bay Military Commission Proceedings against USS Cole Bombing Defendant
Judicial Watch, the public interest organization that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has been approved to monitor the military tribunal of Saudi-born Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, an al-Qaeda terrorist accused of orchestrating the October 12, 2000, attack on the Navy destroyer USS Cole. Al-Nashri is set to be arraigned at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba on November 9, 2011, with the prosecution planning to seek the death penalty.
Judicial Watch representative Irene Garcia has been approved to observe the proceedings by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Office of Military Commissions. At this time, the proceedings against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is the only active case scheduled for Guantanamo Bay.
The USS Cole was the target of a suicide attack while the warship was moored and being refueled in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen American sailors were killed and 39 were injured. The blast occurred when a skiff laden with explosives detonated against the port-side hull of the USS Cole and tore a 40-by-40-foot hole in the side of the stricken ship. It was the deadliest attack against a U.S. Naval vessel since the Iraqi attack on the USS Stark in May 1987.
Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attack. In 2002, al-Qaeda operative Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was captured in the United Arab Emirates and charged with being the mastermind of the bombing. He has been a prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay facility since September 2006. Previous to that, he was held in a secret CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) location.
Two days after his inauguration, Barack Obama signed an executive order directing that Guantanamo Bay be closed within a year. While the facility remains open, White House Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in February 2011: “The president remains committed to closing Guantanamo.”
“It has been a long time in coming, but Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri will now face the justice he deserves before a military tribunal,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “In the effort to bring terrorists into the civilian court system, the Obama administration has irresponsibly disparaged military tribunals and the Guantanamo Bay terrorist-detention facility. We look forward to once again observing the military tribunal process and to providing some balance to the radical groups advocating for the terrorist detainees that will also be observing the proceedings.”
Judicial Watch Civil Litigation Director and attorney Paul Orfanedes visited Guantanamo Bay in 2008 to monitor military commission proceedings against Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other top 9/11 conspirators.