MIAMI (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals filed charges on Tuesday against a Pakistani man who grew up outside Baltimore, alleging he plotted with al Qaeda to attack U.S. targets and assassinate former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
The charges against defendant Majid Khan allege that in 2002, he donned an explosives vest and sat in a mosque in Karachi, Pakistan, where Musharraf was expected. He planned to blow himself up and kill Musharraf, but the plot was foiled when the president failed to show up, the charges said.
Prosecutors allege Khan, 31, was an al Qaeda operative who reported directly to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the September 11 attacks.
Khan is accused of plotting with Mohammed, better known as KSM, to blow up underground gasoline storage tanks in the United States - attacks that were apparently not carried out.
And Khan is accused of conspiring with al Qaeda operatives in Indonesia to bomb bars, cafes and nightclubs frequented by Westerners.
The charges, filed at the Pentagon, allege Khan delivered money used to fund a 2003 attack in which a suicide bomber drove a truck full of explosives into the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. The explosion killed 11 people and injured scores.
Khan was charged with 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. He would face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.
Khan, a Pakistani with legal U.S. residence, moved with his family to the Baltimore area in 1996 and graduated from high school there three years later.
He worked for a while at his family’s gas station before traveling to Pakistan in 2002 to attend a series of family weddings and look for a wife. While there, an associate introduced him to KSM and he began to work with al Qaeda, investigators said.
Khan was captured in Pakistan in March 2003 and held in secret CIA custody for three years before being transferred in 2006 to the detention center at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba. He is currently held in a top-security prison at the base for “high-value” prisoners.
Prosecutors submitted the charges to a retired Navy admiral overseeing the Guantanamo trials, who must approve them before a tribunal is convened to hear the case.
Khan also received assistance from a U.S.-trained neuroscientist, Aafia Siddiqui, who opened a post office box for him and helped him obtain travel documents, military documents indicate. Siddiqui is serving an 86-year prison sentence for her conviction in New York on charges of grabbing a gun and trying to kill U.S. interrogators who were questioning her at a police station in Afghanistan in 2008.
(Reporting By Jane Sutton; editing by Todd Eastham)
In para 12, removes incorrect description of Aafia Siddiqui as Khan's wife; she is not his wife