A former Al Qaeda commander and confidant of Osama bin Laden is to be arraigned Wednesday by U.S. military authorities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, making his case the third-highest prosecution in the troubled military tribunal system.
Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi faces non-capital murder charges for what authorities say is his role in a series of high-profile terrorist attacks. If convicted, he could be imprisoned for life.
Prosecutors say Hadi spent nearly two decades running terrorist training camps and orchestrating assaults in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They say he sat at Bin Laden's side during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans and others.
The arraignment proceedings come a day after the Obama administration announced that it would try a terrorism suspect captured in Libya on Sunday in a civilian court in Washington, not in the special military courts set up after the 9/11 attacks.
Hadi's case is being handled separately from the long-delayed military prosecutions of self-avowed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators, and Abd al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, who is charged with organizing the 2000 attack on the Cole, a U.S. guided missile destroyer, in a Yemeni port.
Hadi, a bearded Iraqi citizen believed to be in his early 50s, has been held at U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay since 2007. The Guantanamo Review Task Force first recommended Hadi for prosecution in January 2010.
He is considered a high-value detainee, and the military's charge sheet runs for 14 pages, alleging his role in 63 separate acts of terrorism as he rose through Al Qaeda's ranks. A man of many aliases, he oversaw suicide bombings, roadside attacks by improvised bombs and other campaigns in which he swore "there shall be no survivors," prosecutors said in court papers
Authorities say Hadi took over Al Qaeda's Al Farouk training camp in eastern Afghanistan in 1996. He became Bin Laden's liaison with the Afghan Taliban as they rose to power, they say, and ultimately was assigned by Bin Laden to run Al Qaeda's insurgency in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Prosecutors say Hadi met repeatedly with Bin Laden in Afghanistan in the early summer of 2001 to discuss the coming assaults on New York and Washington.
Bin Laden gave him $20,000 "to purchase weapons and ammunition" that Al Qaeda knew it would need once the United States retaliated, the charges in the case say. In the spring of 2002, Hadi received an additional $100,000 from Mohammed to further fund Al Qaeda's operations, the charges say.
With that money and his high connections, Hadi "directed, organized, funded, supplied, and oversaw Al Qaeda's operations against U.S. forces, coalition forces and civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan" from 2002 to 2004, the charges say.
His mission was "to kill Americans and their allies wherever found, to kill everyone encountered on the battlefield and to take no prisoners," the charges say.