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US Charges Terror Suspects with Conspiracy, Will Face Special Military Trial - 2004-02-24

The Defense Department says two terrorist suspects held at the U.S. detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have been charged with conspiracy and will be the first to face a special military trial.

The two men are Yemeni Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al Bahlul and Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi of Sudan.

Mr. Al Bahlul is alleged to be a key al-Qaida propagandist who produced videos glorifying the murder of Americans to recruit, inspire, and motivate other al-Qaida members.

Mr. Al Qosi is alleged to be a key al-Qaida accountant and weapons smuggler. He is also alleged to be a long-time assistant and associate of Osama bin Laden, dating back to the time when bin Laden lived in Sudan.

Both men are alleged to have served as bin Laden bodyguards.

The Pentagon says the two men are charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, including attacking civilians, murder, destruction of property and terrorism.

Trial dates have not yet been announced.

The two are among six detainees who President Bush last July declared eligible for possible trial. They were assigned military defense lawyers earlier this month.

They are among some 650 detainees held at Guantanamo.

The military has said it will allow the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as a small group of journalists, to observe the planned trials.

However efforts by human rights groups to monitor the proceedings have been rebuffed for the moment. A Pentagon letter to the U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch says limited courtroom seating and other logistical issues will preclude attendance by many who want to observe the trials.