Detainee Pleads Guilty to Supporting Terrorist Organizations

NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Feb. 15, 2011 — Accused ter­ror­ist train­ing camp instruc­tor Noor Uth­man Muhammed plead­ed guilty here today to charges of sup­port­ing and con­spir­ing with inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions against the Unit­ed States.
Behind barbed wire and a dense net­work of stur­dy orange bar­ri­ers and in accor­dance with a pre­tri­al agree­ment, the native of Sudan admit­ted to activ­i­ties that could lead to his impris­on­ment for life.

Noor, as he has asked to be called in court, will be sen­tenced at a hear­ing this week before mem­bers of a mil­i­tary com­mis­sion.

“The pros­e­cu­tion is very pleased with the entry of the guilty plea by Noor this morn­ing,” Navy Capt. John Mur­phy, chief pros­e­cu­tor for the Office of Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions, told reporters after the tri­al. “We believe it is anoth­er step in the jus­tice that we are achiev­ing in the com­mis­sion cas­es.”

The com­mis­sion now has resolved six cas­es to date, includ­ing Noor’s, all of which have result­ed in con­vic­tions after tri­al or pleas of guilty, Mur­phy said.

Noor’s tra­di­tion­al white Mus­lim garb was cov­ered with a dark blue jack­et. Cov­er­ing his head was a small white cap. He wore head­phones through which an inter­preter con­veyed the words of the tri­al judge, Navy Capt. Moira Modzelews­ki.

Noor plead­ed guilty to the first charge against him, which includ­ed the fol­low­ing:

— Act­ing as a weapons instruc­tor at the Khal­dan ter­ror­ist train­ing camp in Afghanistan, and between 1996 and 2000 instruct­ing ter­ror­ist trainees on top­ics that includ­ed small arms and artillery;

— Serv­ing on the Khal­dan camp’s lead­er­ship coun­cil, called a shu­ra, and act­ing as the camp’s deputy emir, or com­man­der;

— As deputy emir, over­see­ing the camp’s dai­ly oper­a­tions, includ­ing train­ing and acquir­ing food and sup­plies.

The sec­ond charge held that, between August 1996 and March 2002, Noor con­spired with al-Qai­da and oth­ers to com­mit “one or more sub­stan­tive offens­es tri­able by mil­i­tary com­mis­sion.” Noor plead­ed guilty to this charge, but he denied some of the ele­ments in it, includ­ing attack­ing civil­ians, mur­der in vio­la­tion of the law of war and destruc­tion of prop­er­ty in vio­la­tion of the law of war.

The guilty plea is the “strongest form of evi­dence known to the law,” Modzelews­ki told Noor, and she said she would use the plea to deter­mine his guilt and the com­mis­sion would use it to decide on his sen­tence.

When answer­ing in the affir­ma­tive, Noor soft­ly answered, “Na’am,” the Ara­bic word for yes. He answered most of the judge’s ques­tions this way, rest­ing in his chair and labor­ing to his feet slow­ly when asked to rise.

Noor’s defense team includ­ed Howard Cabot, Navy Cmdr. Katie Dox­akis, Army Maj. Amy Fitzgib­bons and Navy Capt. Chris Kan­nady.

The pros­e­cu­tion team con­sist­ed of Air Force Lt. Col. Ken­neth Sachs, Marine Corps Maj. James Weir­ick, Marine Corps Maj. Glen Hines, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Arthur Gas­ton, Army Maj. Daniel Cowhig and two assis­tant U.S. attor­neys rep­re­sent­ing the Jus­tice Depart­ment, James Trump and Mikeal Clay­ton.

Noor’s is the last case the mil­i­tary com­mis­sions office is free to pros­e­cute, Mur­phy said. U.S. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Hold­er des­ig­nat­ed three oth­er sus­pect­ed ter­ror­ists to be pros­e­cut­ed in mil­i­tary com­mis­sions rather than in civil­ian crim­i­nal courts, he said: Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, the alleged mas­ter­mind behind the Octo­ber 2000 bomb­ing of the USS Cole; Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Dar­bi, broth­er-in-law of Khalid al Mihd­har, whose hijacked Flight 77 hit the Pen­ta­gon on 9/11; and sus­pect­ed al-Qai­da mem­ber Obaidul­lah.

The three have not been charged yet, and Mur­phy said the mil­i­tary com­mis­sions office is await­ing autho­riza­tion to pro­ceed or not from Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates.

In all mil­i­tary com­mis­sions, a pan­el of mil­i­tary offi­cers, called “mem­bers,” deter­mines the sen­tence when there is a find­ing of guilt, Defense Depart­ment spokes­woman Army Lt. Col. Tanya Brad­sh­er said today.

At a hear­ing sched­uled for Feb. 16, the defense and pros­e­cu­tion will have a chance to present evi­dence and argu­ments before the mem­bers deter­mine a sen­tence.

The terms of Noor’s pre­tri­al agree­ment are not dis­closed to the mem­bers and will be made pub­lic after the sen­tence is announced.

The Guan­tanamo Bay deten­tion cen­ter is oper­at­ed by the U.S. government’s Joint Task Force Guan­tanamo. The facil­i­ty was estab­lished in 2002.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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