President Barack Obama may want to close these prison camps, but the CIA director said Wednesday that, if U.S. forces catch Osama bin Laden or his deputy, they would likely airlift them here from Afghanistan.
“We would probably move them quickly into military jurisdiction at Bagram for questioning and then eventually move them probably to Guantánamo,” Leon Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
There was no hint that a capture was imminent. But here at the war court, where bin Laden’s legacy is omnipresent, the Pentagon is closing the file on its latest terror prosecution with the conviction of a Sudanese man who was a weapons trainer at an al Qaeda pipeline camp in Afghanistan.
"Terrorists are not born. They are made,” Navy Lt. Cmdr. Arthur Gaston told a jury of nine U.S. military officers Wednesday. “And the accused in this case, Noor Mohammed, has made hundreds of them."
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Noor, in his mid 40s, pleaded guilty Tuesday to supporting terror and conspiracy in a secret plea bargain that military sources said could see him free by 2015. He confessed to being an instructor and sometimes operation manager at the Khaldan terror training camp whose alumni include 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaui and a 1998 East Africa embassies bomber.
Now the jury decides a sentence for his crimes — up to life in prison — which he would only serve if he breaches his agreement with the U.S. government to cooperate in future prosecutions. To help them deliberate, Gaston said, the Pentagon will screen a portion of an Arabic-language video made by alleged arch-terrorist Zayn al Abdeen Mohamed Hussein, known as Abu Zubaydah.
A CIA-Pakistani raid captured Abu Zubaydah on March 28, 2002 and rounded up dozens of other Arabs, including Noor, in a Faisalabad safe house that Gaston described as a terror plot hothouse.
Noor’s volunteer no-charge defense lawyer, Howard Cabot of Phoenix, painted the Sudanese captive as “little more than a low-level functionary – cooking, running errands, teaching others how to use small arms.”
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