By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 20, 2011 – The chief prosecutor of the Defense Department’s Office of Military Commissions has recommended that capital charges be brought against the alleged mastermind behind the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, a Pentagon spokesman said today.
The charges assert that Abd al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al Nashiri was responsible for planning and preparing terrorists to attack the U.S. Navy warship in the Yemini port of Aden, Navy Capt. Darryn James said. The Cole was in the harbor for a routine fuel stop when a small watercraft approached the ship’s port side and exploded. The bombing killed 17 sailors and wounded 40 others.
The charges also claim that Nashiri planned the attempted Jan. 3, 2000, attack on the USS The Sullivans in the same harbor, as well as the attack on the civilian French oil tanker Limburg in the Gulf of Aden on Oct. 6, 2000, which killed one crew member and caused 90,000 barrels of oil to spill into the gulf, James said.
According to a Pentagon statement released today, the prosecutor contends that Nashiri’s crimes are chargeable under the Military Commissions Act of 2009. Nashiri is at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Nashiri’s charges include terrorism, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, hazarding a vessel, using treachery or perfidy, murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in the violation of the law of war, conspiracy to commit terrorism and murder in violation of the law of war, destruction of property in violation of the law of war and attempted destruction of property in violation of the law of war.
Retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald, the convening authority, is reviewing the evidence to determine the appropriate disposition of the charges and to ensure that referral to a military commission is appropriate. Following MacDonald’s referral, a military judge would be detailed, and Nashiri would be tried before a military commission.