Pentagon refers Pakistani's case for trial at Guantanamo

MIAMI Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:01pm EST

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MIAMI (Reuters) - The Pentagon official overseeing the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals gave approval on Wednesday to murder and conspiracy charges against a prisoner accused of conspiring with al Qaeda and trying to assassinate former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Retired Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald referred the charges for trial, meaning defendant Majid Khan will be arraigned within 30 days in a court at Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba.

Khan, a 31-year-old Pakistani whose family moved to the Baltimore area when he was a teen, could face life in prison if convicted of conspiring with al Qaeda, murder and attempted murder in violation of the laws of war, providing material support for terrorism and spying on U.S. and Pakistani targets.

The charges allege that Khan strapped on an explosives vest and waited in a mosque in Karachi, Pakistan, where he planned to blow up himself and Musharraf in a 2002 assassination plot that failed when the Pakistani president failed to show up.

Khan is also accused of plotting to blow up underground gasoline tanks in the United States, and delivering $50,000 in al Qaeda funds that financed the bombing of a JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2003. The explosion killed 11 people.

MacDonald's review was unusually fast. He signed off on the charges just a day after prosecutors submitted them to him.

Khan has been in U.S. custody for nearly nine years, first in secret CIA prisons and later at Guantanamo, where he has been held since 2006 in a special prison for captives considered "high value."

(Editing by Todd Eastham)

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