“High value” Guantanamo detainee pleads guilty to terrorism charges


Majid Shoukat Khan, a “high value” Guantanamo detainee, pled guilty last week to terrorism charges in connection with the 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia and the failed assassination attempt of former Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Khan, a Pakistani immigrant who grew up in Baltimore, was charged with five counts of conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, providing material support for terrorism, and spying. Each count carries a life sentence if convicted.

Under his plea agreement, Khan will face a maximum sentence of 25 years. His sentence could be reduced to 19 years if he fully cooperates with U.S. prosecutors and testifies against other detainees.

But the plea agreement does not change Khan’s “enemy combatant” status, which means the United States could continue to detain Khan – perhaps indefinitely – even after he completes his sentence.

“Even though I do my time, the government can still consider me enemy combatant and they can keep me for the rest of my life,” said Khan at his arraignment. “I’m making a leap of faith here, sir. That is all I can do.”

Allegations against Khan

Khan is accused of helping Al Qaeda plan and facilitate terrorist attacks against the United States between 2002 and 2003.

Prosecutors say Khan traveled to Pakistan in early 2002 to join Al Qaeda in Pakistan. Shortly after his arrival in Karachi, Khan was introduced to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the Al Qaeda leader who organized the 9/11 attacks.

Between January 2002 and March 2003, Khan and Mohammed allegedly plotted several terrorist attacks, including poisoning water reservoirs, blowing up gas stations, and detonating dirty bombs in the United States.

The duo also discussed killing Musharraf, who supported the United States in the war in Afghanistan. Khan received bomb training after he volunteered to be the suicide bomber to kill Musharraf. After two failed assassination attempts, Khan returned to Baltimore to gather information and plan further attacks on U.S. soil.

Months later, Mohammed asked Khan to help Al Qaeda deliver $50,000 to Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamic militant organization responsible for a string of bombings across Southeast Asia. In December, Khan traveled to Thailand with his wife, using their honeymoon as a cover story. On Dec. 28, Khan handed over the money to Mohd Farik Bin Amin (aka Zubair), a Jemaah Islamiyah operative.

“Even though I delivered the money, the fact of the matter is that I did not know where the money was going,” Khan said.

Khan was captured by Pakistani forces on March 5, 2003. Five months later, while Khan was in CIA custody, a suicide bomber rammed a truck into the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Aug. 5th bombing left 11 people dead and 81 wounded. Prosecutors say the bombing was partially funded by the money Khan delivered to Zubair and that the Marriott was targeted by Jemaah Islamiyah because “they believed it had a large American presence.”

“High value” detainee & allegations of torture

Due to his associations with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Khan has been designated as a “high value” detainee. “High value” detainees are subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding and extended sleep deprivation.

Khan had previously told the military tribunal that he was tortured while he was held in a secret CIA prison in Pakistan between March 2003 and September 2006. After he was transferred to Guantanamo, Khan attempted suicide twice and staged a four-week hunger strike to protest alleged abuses by U.S. personnel.

Khan is the seventh detainee convicted by the military commission since the Guantanamo detention center opened 10 years ago. During that period, civilian courts have tried and convicted more than 400 terrorist suspects.

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5 Comments on ““High value” Guantanamo detainee pleads guilty to terrorism charges

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