U.S. military prosecutors have re-filed charges against the alleged mastermind of the attack on the American warship USS Cole, in 2000. The perpetrator is one of three individuals who have been identified as eligible for military trials at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri, a Saudi Arabian national of Yemeni descent, is accused of orchestrating the attack in 2000 in which a small, explosives-laden dinghy rammed into an American warship docked in the Yemeni Port of Aden.
"The charges allege that Nashiri was in charge of the planning and preparation for the attack on USS Cole (DDG 67) in the Port of Aden, Yemen, on Oct. 12, 2000. The attack killed 17 sailors, wounded 40 sailors, and severely damaged the ship by blowing a 30-foot by 30-foot hole in her side," according to the U.S. Department of Defense press release.
Nashiri also is accused of coordinating the attempted attack on the USS The Sullivans in the Port of Aden in 2000 and the attack on the French civilian oil tanker, the MV Limburg in 2002. The latter attack killed one crewmember and resulted in the release of 90,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Aden. All these acts were allegedly carried out while Nashiri served as operations chief for Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Nashiri was apprehended in Dubai in 2002 and initially charged during Bush's presidency. The case was dropped, however, in 2009 as part of an Obama administration initiative to examine the detention policy at Guantanamo Bay. This initiative included a stay on all military trials and the filing of charges against prisoners. The original charges against Nashiri included the death penalty, which military prosecutors are seeking again in the newly filed charges. The decision to proceed with capital charges requires the approval from the Pentagon appointee overseeing the Guantanamo tribunals, retired Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald.
President Obama maintains that his administration is dedicated to closing the Guantanamo detention facility. However, his official resumption on March 7 of military tribunals and the filing of new charges for specific detainees designated by the Justice Department indicates that the facility will remain open for the near future.
Of the approximately 170 detainees at Guantanamo, defense officials reported that about 80 are expected to face trial by military tribunal. Among them is the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four of his co-conspirators, who until recently were scheduled to face trial in federal court in New York.