Al Qaeda-linked magazine delivered to Guantanamo

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 18, 2012 2:28 PM
Al Qaeda-linked magazine delivered to Guantanamo

By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A copy of an al Qaeda-linked magazine was delivered to the Guantanamo detention camp for suspected terrorists, a military prosecutor revealed on Wednesday during a court discussion of mail security.

The camp commander, Rear Admiral David Woods, issued orders last month tightening the screening of mail sent by lawyers to their clients at the camp that holds 171 captives on the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba. Woods testified in the Guantanamo war crimes court on Tuesday that the new rules were necessary to prevent contraband from entering the camp, but gave no specifics.

One of the prosecutors in the case of a suspected al Qaeda bomber said in court on Wednesday that the old system had not worked because items were getting in that should not.

"There was material getting in like Inspire magazine," said the prosecutor, Navy Commander Andrea Lockhart.

Inspire magazine bills itself as the publication of Yemeni-based group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and famously published an article titled, "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom." The United States considers it a propaganda and recruitment vehicle for the group, and killed its editor in a drone strike in Yemen in September.

A Pentagon spokesman could not immediately provide details concerning the copy that wound up in Guantanamo.

Lockhart indicated that it was sent by a civilian lawyer representing a detainee challenging his Guantanamo detention in the U.S. District Court in Washington. Those civilian "habeas corpus" cases are separate from the war crimes tribunals taking place in fits and starts at Guantanamo.

FAIR TRIAL RIGHTS?

Only one prisoner currently faces charges in a tribunal, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, and his lawyer said he was not the one who received the Inspire magazine.

The 47-year-old Saudi is accused of orchestrating the October 2000 attack that killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured dozens more aboard the USS Cole. Suicide bombers rammed a boat full of explosives into the side of the American warship while it refueled in the Yemeni port of Aden, blowing a huge hole in its side.

Nashiri could be executed if he is convicted of charges that include murder, attempted murder, conspiring with al Qaeda and attacking civilians.

Two-days of pretrial hearings in his case this week focused on the mail restrictions that Woods imposed for the other 170 prisoners. Woods said teams of Pentagon contractors, who included lawyers, translators and former intelligence officers, reviewed the mail to ensure it did not contain physical or informational contraband. Under his rules, the screeners divided mail into three categories.

Nashiri's lawyers argued that in order to carry out that task, the screeners had to read confidential legal mail. They said submitting case-related documents under that system would force them to illegally disclose trial strategy, violating Nashiri's right to a fair trial. They said it was also an ethical violation that potentially could put their own law licenses in jeopardy.

The judge in the case, Army Colonel James Pohl, heard arguments from both sides and said he would issue an order in a couple of weeks outlining procedures for the handling of Nashiri's legal mail.

Nashiri was captured in Dubai in 2002 and held in secret CIA custody until his transfer to Guantanamo in 2006. Prosecutors hope to start his trial by March 2013 at the latest. The defense said it would not be ready before March 2015, in part because it must sort through up to 556,000 pages of evidence, some of which must be translated and some of which requires special handling because it is secret.

(Editing by Tom Brown)