Pentagon Seeks Death Penalty for USS Cole Bomb Plotter

Posted September 28th, 2011 at 4:10 pm (UTC-5)
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A Saudi Arabian man accused of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole will be tried before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay and could face the death penalty if convicted.

The Pentagon said Wednesday Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is accused of the planning and preparation of the attack on the U.S. naval vessel in Yemen's Port of Aden. The bombing killed 17 sailors, wounded nearly 40 others and blew a hole in the side of the USS Cole.

Nashiri is also accused of plotting an attack on a French supermarket two years later. The counts against him include murder, terrorism, conspiracy and destruction of property.

Defense lawyers for Nashiri are arguing he should not be subjected to capital punishment because of the torture he has faced while in U.S. custody. He was arrested in 2002 and was transferred to the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba in 2006.

Nashiri is expected to be arraigned within 30 days.

The case sets into motion the military tribunal system set up during the administration of George W. Bush. But in 2009, the military commission was blocked by President Barack Obama when he ordered all trials to be halted and the prison to be shut down.

Mr. Obama reversed the order in March 2011, paving the way for the military tribunals to continue. Previous charges against Nashiri were withdrawn in 2009 to comply with the order.

President Obama maintains he is committed to shutting down the prison, but his efforts have been blocked by Congress.