Guantanamo inmate pleads guilty

Sudanese prisoner being tried for terrorism, admits he trained al-Qaeda recruits in Afghanistan.

    Noor Uthman Muhammed became the fourth detainee to take a plea deal at the special tribunals [GALLO/GETTY]

    A Sudanese prisoner, held at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, admitting he trained al-Qaeda recruits in Afghanistan.

    On Tuesday, defendant Noor Uthman Muhammed became the fourth detainee to take a plea deal at the special tribunals created to try terrorism suspects.

    Noor, as he asked the court to call him, admitted he was a weapons instructor and logistics manager at the Khaldan paramilitary camp in Afghanistan.

    Some of the September 11 hijackers and other al-Qaeda operatives are said to have trained at the camp.

    Noor's plea agreement, which was not disclosed, sets a shorter cap on his sentence on the condition that he will co-operate in other prosecutions.

    He could have faced life in prison if convicted at trial.

    'Al-Qaeda pipeline'

    Noor is not classified as a "high value" prisoner but Navy Captain John Murphy, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, said Noor and the Khaldan camp were integral parts of the al-Qaeda pipeline.

    "He is part of the apparatus of al-Qaeda and terrorism," Murphy told journalists after the plea hearing.

    Captured in March 2002 in Pakistan, the original charge accused him of conspiring with al-Qaeda to attack and murder civilians.

    The version he pleaded guilty to has removed that language and he admitted only to conspiring with al-Qaeda to provide material support for terrorism.

    That includes providing safe houses, false identification, explosives and unidentified "lethal substances" to al-Qaeda and its associates.

    Noor, who has been held at Guantanamo for more than eight years, is due to be sentenced by a panel of military officers.

    He is the sixth inmate in Guantanamo Bay to be convicted and the third since President Barack Obama took office, a military spokeswoman said.

    Release overturned

    Meanwhile, a US appeals court on Tuesday, overturned the planned release of another Guantanamo Bay detainee who prosecutors said trained in an al-Qaeda camp weeks before the September 11 attacks, according to court documents.

    Saeed Hatim, from Yemen, who has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, claims he falsely confessed to having al-Qaeda links because he was tortured in US custody.

    A lower court judge ordered his release in December 2009, but stayed the ruling, which kept him behind bars pending the appeal.

    The three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals in Washington on Tuesday ruled that decisions issued in other Guantanamo cases have set new legal precedents. The panel said Hatim's case must be heard again in light of the new standards.

    His case returns to the federal district court for new hearings.

    Obama had vowed to shut down the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison, but he faces resistance from Congress amid a fierce debate over the future of its high-profile foreign inmates.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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