AFP
Last updated: 7 October, 2011

USS Cole bombing suspect to be arraigned on Nov 9

The main suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole warship will go before a judge for the first time at a Guantanamo Bay military tribunal on November 9, the Pentagon said Friday.

Saudi-born Abd al-Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al-Nashiri allegedly planned and prepared the October 2000 attack on the US Navy destroyer in Yemen’s port of Aden that killed 17 sailors and wounded 40 more.

Nashiri had been due to appear on October 26 but the hearing was deferred at the request of his defense team.

“The defense requested, and the judge approved, a continuance of the arraignment date in the case of US versus al-Nashiri,” a Pentagon statement said in confirming the new court date.

US military prosecutors also accuse Nashiri of plotting an attempted strike on USS The Sullivans in Aden in January 2000, and an attack on a French civilian oil tanker MV Limburg in the Gulf of Aden in 2002 that killed a Bulgarian crew member and spilled 90,000 barrels of oil.

It is the first new capital case to go to trial at Guantanamo’s “war on terror” tribunal since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, and Nashiri’s first public appearance since his detention seven years earlier.

According to documents released in 2009, interrogators submitted Nashiri to dozens of waterboarding sessions.

Foreign governments and rights groups have condemned the simulated drowning technique as torture — and US authorities have since prohibited the practice — but waterboarding was approved by Justice Department authorities at the time.

At a closed hearing in 2007, Nashiri said he confessed to the USS Cole bombing, which blew a 30-by-30-foot (10-by-10-meter) hole in the ship, because he was subjected to torture.