Fifth Terrorist Detainee Brought into Civilian Courts

This is getting to be a trend.

A six-count indictment was unsealed today in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun, also known as “Spin Ghul,” with conspiracy to murder American military personnel in Afghanistan, conspiracy to bomb American diplomatic facilities in Nigeria, conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda, providing material support to al Qaeda, and related firearms and explosives counts. The indictment was returned under seal by a federal grand jury sitting in Brooklyn, New York on February 21, 2012, and relates to Harun’s alleged activities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Africa beginning in 2001.


According to court documents, Harun, who was born in Saudi Arabia but claims citizenship in Niger, was extradited from Italy to the United States on October 4, 2012, and arraigned in a sealed proceeding in federal court in Brooklyn, New York on October 5, 2012.

With the three Somalis rendered to the US in November and arraigned in December, and Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Abu Ghaith a few weeks ago, this makes 5 al Qaeda/Shabaab associates brought into the civilian court system in defiance of the 2012 NDAA.

All involve a period of pre-detention either here or abroad (or both), followed by processing in the civilian courts.

We’ll see how this approach works out (Ghaith’s charges, in particular, may be interesting ones to try, though he is after all OBL’s relative, so I assume he’ll be convicted regardless). But for now, it seems the Administration is just going to blow off Congress’ demands for military detention.

6 replies
  1. nomolos says:

    If I understand correctly these people are being charged with trying to stop invading armies from killing people? That is what is now defined as terrorism? Maybe America should stop sending troops to kill, torture and maim people. And maybe the real terrorists Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and many more should be charged with their crimes and be thrown in jail.

    Jazus this country has gone to the bloody dogs.

  2. scribe says:

    Note that, technically, the grand juries returning these indictments – and, AFAIK, they’re all indictments and not informations or complaints – are arms of the respective US District Courts, i.e., Article III, and not the Executive, Article II.

    The spiel you get to hear addressed to the witnesses while sitting as a grand juror starts something like this: “Mr. Witness, the grand jury is investigating possible crimes in [the name of this jurisdiction” and has determined that you may have information relevant to their investigation. Could you please state your name for the Record?”

    That this is being said by an AUSA or assistant DA or whatever the jurisdiction calls the prosecuting attorney is pretty much irrelevant. The subpoenas go out under the aegis of the grand jury, and questions are asked by the grand jurors or someone treated as the grand jury’s agent – the prosecuting attorney – and everything is done in the name of the Courts.

    And when the GJ returns the inevitable indictments, the prosecutors are merely following court orders to hunt the guys down (wherever they might be in captivity), get an extradition warrant and have them brought in to Court to face their music. Remember, too, that the US Marshals work for the Courts, to enforce court orders (like warrants to search, arrest, or extradite) and enforce judgments, and do not work for the Executive. They might cooperate closely with the Executive, but they work for the Courts.

    So, insofar as it’s the Courts and not the Executive that’s technically taking the lead on this, I think the Obama admin will get away with this. After all, they have two counterarguments to any Rethug stupid enough to fight them over it. (1) “The grand jury has returned an indictment (which alleges a crime was committed and defendant committed it). Rethug Blithering Idiot wants us to not prosecute alleged crimes. (The next thing you know, he’ll want us to not go after his tax-dodging brother–in-law.)” (2) “The Constitution obligates us to see to it that the laws be faithfully enforced. The GJ has returned an indictment and we will not be derelict in that Constitutional duty. (Any supposed law to the contrary – that prevents us from carrying out that duty – we will argue is unconstitutional.)”

    Too bad they didn’t figure this out 5 years ago.

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