Suspected al QaedaTerrorist to be Tried in Court


Plans have been made to prosecute a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist in a U.S. civilian court instead of a military tribunal. Nazah Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, also known as Libi, will be tried at a U.S. federal court in the Southern District of New York for his role in the twin bombings of U.S. embassies at Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which occurred in 1998. The venue in which the prosecution will be conducted has revived the controversy as to how the U.S. should deal with terror suspects.

Libi was captured by American special forces at his home in Libya on Oct. 5. He was initially taken to a U.S. Navy ship for questioning, but was brought back to shore after experiencing undisclosed health problems. Subsequently, he was read his Miranda rights, as is everyone who is charged with a crime in the American criminal justice system, and was also provided with an attorney. Plans to try the case in a civilian court were announced by Mark Martins, the chief war crimes prosecutor for the U.S. military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Martins said the decision to try the case in New York was based on such factors as the feasibility of the case and the efficiency of U.S. federal courts. He also noted that Libi had been indicted by a federal court even before his capture. Libi has pleaded not guilty to the charges facing him.

The truck bombings at the two embassies killed 224 persons, including 12 Americans, and injured more than 4,000 others. Libi was one of 21 suspects indicted for their involvement in the attacks. Although some still remain at large, six of those involved have been successfully prosecuted and sentenced to prison. The bombings brought attention to al-Qaeda, the organization that would later be implicated in other terrorist events, including the attack in the U.S. in September 2001.

The decision to try Libi is reminiscent of an earlier attempt by the administration of President Barack Obama to prosecute terror suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court. This attempt was thwarted by action of the U.S. Congress, and the case was turned over to the U.S. military.


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