An Al-Qaeda Combatant in the U.S. Heartland

[Washington Post] Susan Schmidt - Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, 37, was named by President Bush as an enemy combatant in 2003 - the only foreigner arrested on U.S. soil to be so designated. In May at the Coast Guard Academy, Bush said the intelligence community believes that among Marri's potential targets were "water reservoirs, the New York Stock Exchange and United States military academies such as this one." The Pentagon stopped questioning him after the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that alleged enemy combatants held in the U.S. have a right to counsel. But beneath the legal maneuvers are mysteries that Marri has never addressed: What was behind his travels between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and the U.S.? What was the purpose of his computer research on hacking, and on how to buy and mix large quantities of chemicals into deadly hydrogen cyanide gas? Why did he possess more than 1,000 stolen credit card numbers? Federal agents allege that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the man who would become the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, became Marri's al-Qaeda handler. U.S. intelligence officials believe that Marri, whose family is Saudi, trained for two years in Afghanistan, among other things receiving instruction in the use of poisons and toxins at the Derunta camp near Jalalabad. Intelligence source said, "We think al-Marri was here to carry out attacks, as part of a second or third wave." On March 1, 2003, Mohammed was captured in a safe house in Pakistan, along with a treasure-trove of material from his computer and telephones. He revealed several "second wave" plotters and facilitators who were dispatched before the 2001 attacks. Marri was among them, counterterrorism sources said.

2007-07-20 01:00:00

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