News / USA

First Guantanamo Detainee Terror Trial Opens in New York

In this courtroom sketch, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Lewin, foreground, gives his opening statement to the jury in the trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, left, as lead defense attorney Steve Zissou, third from left, and Judge Lewin Kaplan, right, look
In this courtroom sketch, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Lewin, foreground, gives his opening statement to the jury in the trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, left, as lead defense attorney Steve Zissou, third from left, and Judge Lewin Kaplan, right, look

The trial of accused terrorist Ahmed Ghailani began in New York City on Tuesday. Ghailani is accused of taking part in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Tanzania.

The proceedings began with a statement from U.S. Assistant Attorney Nicholas Lewin, who said the government will establish that the defendant was involved in the acquisition of a refrigerator truck and explosives that were used in the suicide bombing of the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam. 

Lewin said a vehicle identification number from that vehicle led to Ghailani, adding that detonators and traces of explosives were found in his apartment.  The prosecutor also noted that 20 oxygen and acetylene tanks allegedly were purchased by Ghailani to increase the destructive force of the blast.

The government says it will prove that Ghailani fled to Pakistan with al-Qaida co-conspirators under an assumed name and fake passport the day before the attack.

One of Ghailani's attorneys, Steve Zissou, asked the jury not to be seduced by what he referred to as the prosecution's frightening characterization of the crime.  Zissou indicated that the defense will show that Ghailani was duped by al-Qaida operatives who used him to run errands, without telling him about their criminal intentions.

Zissou said his client was young at the time of the bombing.  He says Ghailani stayed with the al-Qaida operatives because they were older and that he admired them as successful businessmen.

Earlier, Ghailani's attorneys filed a motion for a mistrial, arguing that a questionnaire used for jury selection was based on assurances by the prosecution it that al-Qaida would not figure as prominently in the trial as it did in the government's opening statement.  Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected the motion.

The trial had been delayed for a week after Kaplan excluded a witness who prosecutors say admitted to selling explosives to Ghailani.  The judge said the witness was identified following enhanced interrogation of the defendant by the CIA, thus extending U.S. Constitutional protection against self-incrimination to a foreign terror suspect. 

The government's first witness was John Lange, the former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Tanzania.  Lange was questioned about the physical layout of the embassy and aftermath of the attack.

The defense's cross-examination ended the day's proceedings, when Lange was asked whether he knew the meaning of the phrase Romeo Two.  Lange said he did not.  No explanation was provided.  

Judge Kaplan indicated that the trial might last several weeks or months, perhaps into next year.

Ahmed Ghailani is the first suspect held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to be tried in an American civilian court.  He is charged with 224 counts of murder as well as terrorism and conspiracy with al-Qaida to kill Americans around the world.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid