The LWOT: State Department may ban TTP; Red Cross confirms “secret” U.S. prison

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SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

State Department may ban Pakistani Taliban

As investigations continue into last week's failed Times Square bombing, several influential U.S. senators called on the State Department to add the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the list of banned terrorist groups. U.S. officials have accused the group of involvement in the attempted attack (NYT, Newsweek). The Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) urged the State Department to ban not only the TTP but the Haqqani network as well, a group with links to al Qaeda who have fought U.S. troops in Afghanistan and is suspected of maintaining ties to Pakistani intelligence (AFP). State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said this week that the State Department was considering adding the group to the list before the bombing. This change which would make it illegal for Americans to provide "material support" to the group, ban members from traveling to the United States, and freeze TTP assets in the country (AP).

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told several interviewers Sunday that the Obama administration should consider "updating" the public safety exception allowing interrogators to temporarily question a suspect before reading them their Miranda rights (NYT, ABC). Since his arrest bomber Faisal Shahzad voluntarily provided information before and after being read his Miranda rights, waived his right to an attorney, and this week waived his right to a speedy arraignment (CNN). In remarks prepared for the House Judiciary Committee, Holder cited Shahzad's case as an example of the civilian justice system's capacity to gather intelligence in terrorism cases (AP).

State Department may ban Pakistani Taliban

As investigations continue into last week’s failed Times Square bombing, several influential U.S. senators called on the State Department to add the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the list of banned terrorist groups. U.S. officials have accused the group of involvement in the attempted attack (NYT, Newsweek). The Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) urged the State Department to ban not only the TTP but the Haqqani network as well, a group with links to al Qaeda who have fought U.S. troops in Afghanistan and is suspected of maintaining ties to Pakistani intelligence (AFP). State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said this week that the State Department was considering adding the group to the list before the bombing. This change which would make it illegal for Americans to provide "material support" to the group, ban members from traveling to the United States, and freeze TTP assets in the country (AP).

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told several interviewers Sunday that the Obama administration should consider "updating" the public safety exception allowing interrogators to temporarily question a suspect before reading them their Miranda rights (NYT, ABC). Since his arrest bomber Faisal Shahzad voluntarily provided information before and after being read his Miranda rights, waived his right to an attorney, and this week waived his right to a speedy arraignment (CNN). In remarks prepared for the House Judiciary Committee, Holder cited Shahzad’s case as an example of the civilian justice system’s capacity to gather intelligence in terrorism cases (AP).

Pakistan revealed this week that they have arrested an "accomplice" of Shahzad’s who seemed to confirm certain aspects of Shahzad’s account of training with the TTP, though officials cautioned that there were "discrepancies" between the two’s statements to authorities (Washington Post). On May 13 police arrested three men in New England on suspicion of having helped finance Shahzad, with or without knowing that it was for the attack (Times ). The Washington Post today has a profile of Shahzad’s father and family, who have expressed shock at Shahzad’s attack and radicalization (Washington Post).

Khadr trial date set

Army judge Col. Patrick Parrish has set Aug. 10 as the start date for Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr’s trial. Khadr is charged with killing a Delta Force member in Afghanistan in 2002, at the age of 15 (Miami Herald). Hearings to determine the admissibility of Khadr’s statements to interrogators at Bagram Air Base and Gitmo will resume July 12, after being suspended last week so the Pentagon could conduct a psychological exam of Khadr.

The United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict on May 13 called for the United States to repatriate Khadr to Canada, his country of origin (Jurist). And the employers of four journalists banned from covering further trials at Gitmo for publishing the name of an interrogator who testified at Khadr’s hearing are fighting back. The media outlets argue that the journalists did not violate a Pentagon secrecy order, as the interrogator’s name was already public knowledge (Miami Herald).

Red Cross confirms "secret" prison at Bagram

The Red Cross confirmed May 11 the existence of a previously unreported detention facility at Bagram Air Base. The BBC has reported that at least nine former detainees say they were abused there (BBC). U.S. President Barack Obama ordered all "black" or secret jails closed on Jan. 22, 2009, and the Red Cross said the U.S. has been notifying them of detainees placed in the second prison since August 2009. The head of U.S. detention operations in Afghanistan, Vice Adm. Robert Harward, denied the presence of secret jails in Afghanistan, but said that the military operates "field-detention sites" where detainees are processed and briefly held before being moved to the main detention site (Danger Room). While some reports indicated the facility was under the control of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Marc Ambinder reports that the facility is run by members of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), who have secret authorization to use certain "restricted" interrogation techniques detailed in an appendix of the Army Field Manual (Atlantic).

Federal Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected a motion from Ahmed Khalfan Gailani, accused of plotting the 1998 truck bomb attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa, for the charges against him to be dismissed because he says he was abused in secret CIA prisons before his transfer to Guantanamo in 2006 (NYT).

Kaplan wrote in his decision that the alleged abuse of Gailani has no bearing on his trial, since the prosecution is not using evidence obtained during Gailani’s time in CIA custody. And Spanish prosecutors have asked for arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents they believe participated in the rendition of German citizen Khalid al-Masri to Afghanistan in 2004, after he was confused for an al Qaeda member with the same name (Washington Post). The White House filed a motion May 12 to block the Supreme Court from hearing an appeal in a different case, Arar v. Ashcroft, challenging the legality of extraordinary renditions (SCOTUS blog).

Trials and Tribulations

  • On May 13 Federal Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. granted the habeas corpus petition of a Russian dancer who converted to Islam and has been imprisoned at Gitmo since 2002 (Miami Herald). His is the 35th habeas petition to be granted since 2008, when detainees gained the right to challenge their detentions in court.
  • A Belgian court on May 11 sentenced "al Qaeda living legend" Malika al-Aroud to eight and a half years in prison for "creating, funding and directing" a terrorist cell in Belgium (CNN).
  • A Pakistani man arrested at the U.S. embassy in Chile on May 10 for having traces of explosives on his person, documents, and cell phone is currently being held under a Chilean anti-terrorism law (Reuters). He can be held without charge until this weekend.
  • Pakistan’s Supreme Court has adjourned the appeal of Lashkar-e-Taiba commander and alleged Mumbai attack organizer Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi for two weeks to consider new evidence from the conviction in an Indian court of the lone surviving Mumbai attacker, Ajmal Kasab (Dawn).
  • Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said on May 10 that his government would not extradite radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki were he to be arrested, but would try him for terrorism in Yemen (Reuters). Awlaki is currently on a U.S. government "hit list" for his alleged involvement in recruiting and planning terrorist plots. Scott Shane has a roundup of the legal issues raised by his presence on the "hit list" (NYT).
  • On May 10, the alleged ringleader of the "Toronto 18," a group arrested in 2006 for plotting to bomb government targets in Canada, changed his plea to guilty midway through his terrorism trial (AP).

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