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US military charges Pak national with terror link

February 15, 2012 08:49 IST

The United States Defence Department announced Tuesday that  the military commission has charged Majid Shoukat Khan, a Pakistani national, for joining hands with the Al Qaeda 'to commit murder and attempted murder' and providing material support for terrorism, and spying.

The department announced that Khan, who lived in the US from 1996 to early 2002 before returning to Pakistan, joined with members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan to plan and prepare attacks against diverse targets in the US, Indonesia, and elsewhere after September 11, 2001 attacks.

The commission, the DoD said, has alleged that Khan obtained travel document to travel from his residence in Baltimore, Maryland to Karachi in January of 2002, and that he conspired with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed regarding a plot to blow-up underground gasoline storage tanks at gas stations in the US and in other domestic plots.

It said that Khan at Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's direction, recorded a 'martyr video,' donned an explosive vest, and sat in a mosque waiting for then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to arrive so that Khan could assassinate him. That plot never succeeded because Musharraf never arrived.

According to the charges Khan travelled in March of 2002 from Karachi to Baltimore, where 'he performed tasks for Al Qaeda and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, including purchasing a laptop computer for Al Qaeda and contacting a military recruiter to obtain materials regarding the US military, which he intended to give to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.'

On returning to Pakistan in August 2002, Khan worked directly for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ali Abdul al-Aziz Ali, and other Al Qaeda associates, all of whom were evading capture by United States and Pakistani authorities.

While in Bangkok, he allegedly delivered $50,000 in Al Qaeda funds to a southeast Asia-based Qaeda affiliate, which in turn delivered the money to the allied terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which used the funding to detonate a bomb in August of 2003 at the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 11 people, wounding at least 81 others, and severely damaging the hotel.

According to a DoD press note, chief prosecutor Mark Martins has forwarded the sworn charges to convening authority Bruce MacDonald with a recommendation that the charges be referred to military commission for trial. 

By separate action, Martins also detailed Courtney Sullivan of the Justice Department as trial counsel in the case and Army Lt Col  Michael Hosang and Navy Lt Nathaniel Gross as assistant trial counsel.

Martins has not recommended that any of the charges be referred to a military commission empowered to adjudge the death penalty, and therefore the maximum allowable penalty for the charged offenses is life imprisonment.

The convening authority will make an independent determination as to whether to refer some, all, or none of the charges to trial by military commission.

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Suman Guha Mozumder in New York