The LWOT: Somali indicted after secret arrest, interrogation

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ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Somali indicted after secret detention aboard U.S. Navy vessel

The Obama administration on July 5 announced the indictment in New York of Somali Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame on nine charges, including allegedly providing material support to the terrorist groups al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), after Warsame had been held in secret for two months and interrogated aboard a U.S. Navy vessel (NYT, Post, LAT, AP, BBC, Tel, ABC, WSJ, AJE, CNN). Warsame, identified by U.S. officials as a key figure in al-Shabaab and a "conduit" between the two groups, was arrested April 19 in international waters between Yemen and Somalia and interrogated by the mixed civilian and military "High-Value Interrogation Group" for intelligence purposes, before being transfered to FBI custody for interrogations with a view towards criminal charges (LAT).

Reuters reports that Warsame sought to expand the "reach" of al-Shabaab, and the Post writes that he assisted and conspired with an American national and a U.S. resident; he reportedly waived his Miranda rights each day for seven days during his FBI interrogation (Reuters, AFP, Post). Though Warsame is said to have cooperated with interrogators, there is no indication of whether or not his information aided drone strikes carried out last month in Yemen (NYT). His secret arrival in New York July 4 and indictment, the first  transfer of a terrorism suspect to a civilian court from abroad, prompted an outcry from Republican Congressional leaders and has rekindled the debate about the interrogation and detention of foreign terrorism suspects (NYT, Post, LAT, ABC, Globe and Mail, Guardian, NPR, AFP).

Somali indicted after secret detention aboard U.S. Navy vessel

The Obama administration on July 5 announced the indictment in New York of Somali Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame on nine charges, including allegedly providing material support to the terrorist groups al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), after Warsame had been held in secret for two months and interrogated aboard a U.S. Navy vessel (NYT, Post, LAT, AP, BBC, Tel, ABC, WSJ, AJE, CNN). Warsame, identified by U.S. officials as a key figure in al-Shabaab and a "conduit" between the two groups, was arrested April 19 in international waters between Yemen and Somalia and interrogated by the mixed civilian and military "High-Value Interrogation Group" for intelligence purposes, before being transfered to FBI custody for interrogations with a view towards criminal charges (LAT).

Reuters reports that Warsame sought to expand the "reach" of al-Shabaab, and the Post writes that he assisted and conspired with an American national and a U.S. resident; he reportedly waived his Miranda rights each day for seven days during his FBI interrogation (Reuters, AFP, Post). Though Warsame is said to have cooperated with interrogators, there is no indication of whether or not his information aided drone strikes carried out last month in Yemen (NYT). His secret arrival in New York July 4 and indictment, the first  transfer of a terrorism suspect to a civilian court from abroad, prompted an outcry from Republican Congressional leaders and has rekindled the debate about the interrogation and detention of foreign terrorism suspects (NYT, Post, LAT, ABC, Globe and Mail, Guardian, NPR, AFP).

The secret detention and arrest mark a new "hybrid" approach for the Obama administration towards terrorism suspects, fusing military detention and interrogation with civilian evidence gathering, while avoiding sending a new detainee to Guantánamo Bay (NYT, Post). However, this mixed approach raises questions about which evidence will be admissible in court and the government’s detention authority (Reuters, Lawfare Blog, Lawfare Blog, Lawfare Blog).

In other new, the European Union’s ambassador to the United States said this week that Europe was still open to accepting Guantánamo detainees, while the Post notes the increasing difficulty detainees have had with habeas petitions in federal court (Miami Herald, Post). And a British investigation into the possible abuse of terrorism suspects after 9/11 will reportedly investigate the United States’ rendition of suspects to third countries for detention and questioning (AP, Toronto Star).

Ft. Hood shooting suspect to face court martial

Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, the commander of Ft. Hood, authorized a court martial and potential death sentence on July 7 for Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who stands accused of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at the base in 2009  (Reuters, AP, WSJ, AFP, AJE, Politico).

A jury in a Brooklyn federal court convicted American Betim Kaziu on July 7 of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, and plotting to attack U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans (Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg). Kaziu, who attempted to travel to Somalia and was arrested in Kosovo, faces possible life imprisonment when he is sentenced in early November.

A federal judge on July 7 denied a request to delay the October trial of Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, accused of attempting to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear about Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day, 2009 (Reuters, Bloomberg, AP). And a federal judge in Florida said last Friday that he would decide later this month whether or not to grant bail to two Florida imams charged with providing funds and other support to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) (Miami Herald).

Also this week, the FBI publicly added a Canadian citizen and former Michigan resident, Faouzi Ayoub, to its list of most-wanted terrorists, after an indictment was unsealed charging Ayoub with plotting to detonate a bomb in Israel on behalf of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah (Toronto Star, AP).

The man who tracked bin Laden

The AP has a must-read story this week about a CIA officer, "John," who played a key role in tracking Osama bin Laden over much of the last decade (AP). The unnamed officer also reportedly played an important part in the capture of several major al-Qaeda figures, and was a force behind the uptick in drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas after 2007 and 2008.

Finally, the White House announced last Friday that it would nominate Matthew G. Olsen, currently the General Counsel for the National Security Agency, to replace Michael Leiter as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (CNN, Post, WSJ, AP). Olsen formerly directed President Barack Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, which evaluated the case of every remaining detainee at the prison when Obama took office in 2009.

Trials and Tribulations  

  • Nigerian security services announced the detention of over 100 members of the Muslim militant group Boko Haram on July 4, as the group has escalated its campaign of violence in the country’s restive north (Reuters, Bloomberg, AFP, AP, AFP, AFP, CNN).    
  • Canada’s government this week officially listed the TTP as a terrorist group (Canadian Press).   
  • German prosecutors on July 7 charged 21-year-old Kosovar Arid Uka with killing two U.S. servicemen on a bus at Frankfurt Airport (NYT, Deutsche Welle, Reuters, AP).  
  • Mauritanian forces on July 5 fought off an attack by suspected members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) near the country’s border with Mali, reportedly killing up to 20 fighters (AFP, CNN, Reuters).  
  • U.S. officials warned July 6 that AQAP sought to stage attacks against airlines by "implanting" explosives in attackers (WSJ, Tel).
  • Norwegian authorities are reportedly planning to indict three men with alleged links to al-Qaeda who were arrested last year on suspicion of planning attacks in Scandinavia (Reuters). And a Danish court today extended by one month the detention of four men charged with planning an attack on a Danish newspaper that published drawings depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005 (Reuters).   
  • Italy on July 3 deported an Algerian, Yamine Bouhrama, following the end of his six-year prison sentence for membership in a terrorist cell (Reuters).  
  • Indonesian authorities arrested seven terrorism suspects this week based on allegations that they tried to smuggle weapons into the country (AFP).  
  • British security forces this week arrested a suspected member of the Basque separatist group ETA on charges that he allegedly attempted to kill the king of Spain in 1997 (Guardian, AFP, AP).   
  • A group of 17 men in Azerbaijan were sentenced this week to jail time ranging from five years to life in prison for their purported links to al-Qaeda (Reuters). 

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