DOD Prosecutor Charges Cole Bombing Suspect

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2011 — The chief pros­e­cu­tor of the Defense Department’s Office of Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions has rec­om­mend­ed that cap­i­tal charges be brought against the alleged mas­ter­mind behind the Octo­ber 2000 bomb­ing of the USS Cole, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman said today.

The charges assert that Abd al Rahim Hus­sayn Muham­mad al Nashiri was respon­si­ble for plan­ning and prepar­ing ter­ror­ists to attack the U.S. Navy war­ship in the Yem­i­ni port of Aden, Navy Capt. Dar­ryn James said. The Cole was in the har­bor for a rou­tine fuel stop when a small water­craft approached the ship’s port side and explod­ed. The bomb­ing killed 17 sailors and wound­ed 40 oth­ers.

The charges also claim that Nashiri planned the attempt­ed Jan. 3, 2000, attack on the USS The Sul­li­vans in the same har­bor, as well as the attack on the civil­ian French oil tanker Lim­burg in the Gulf of Aden on Oct. 6, 2000, which killed one crew mem­ber and caused 90,000 bar­rels of oil to spill into the gulf, James said.

Accord­ing to a Pen­ta­gon state­ment released today, the pros­e­cu­tor con­tends that Nashiri’s crimes are charge­able under the Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions Act of 2009. Nashiri is at the U.S. deten­tion facil­i­ty in Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba.

Nashiri’s charges include ter­ror­ism, attack­ing civil­ians, attack­ing civil­ian objects, inten­tion­al­ly caus­ing seri­ous bod­i­ly injury, haz­ard­ing a ves­sel, using treach­ery or per­fidy, mur­der in vio­la­tion of the law of war, attempt­ed mur­der in the vio­la­tion of the law of war, con­spir­a­cy to com­mit ter­ror­ism and mur­der in vio­la­tion of the law of war, destruc­tion of prop­er­ty in vio­la­tion of the law of war and attempt­ed destruc­tion of prop­er­ty in vio­la­tion of the law of war.

Retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce Mac­Don­ald, the con­ven­ing author­i­ty, is review­ing the evi­dence to deter­mine the appro­pri­ate dis­po­si­tion of the charges and to ensure that refer­ral to a mil­i­tary com­mis­sion is appro­pri­ate. Fol­low­ing MacDonald’s refer­ral, a mil­i­tary judge would be detailed, and Nashiri would be tried before a mil­i­tary com­mis­sion.

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

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