Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Saturday, 24 January 2009

Brother campaigns for 'enemy combatant'

By Steve Swann
BBC News

In the week that President Obama announced his intention to close Guantanamo Bay, he also ordered a review into the case of the only "enemy combatant" being held on the US mainland.

Ali al-Marri (2003 pic)
Ali al-Marri was arrested in the US, so could not be taken to Guantanamo

Ali al-Marri, who is accused of being an Al Qaeda sleeper agent, is being held in isolation on a naval base where his lawyers claim he has been seriously mistreated.

Mr al-Marri, a Qatari national, was arrested in the US in December 2001. He was charged with credit card fraud and lying to the FBI, but before his trial was due to start he was declared an "enemy combatant" and accused of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent tasked with hacking into computers to disrupt the financial system.

It is claimed Mr al-Marri met al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and "offered to be an al-Qaeda martyr or to do anything else that al-Qaeda requested" and that he travelled to the US to "facilitate other al-Qaida operatives in carrying out post-9/11 terror attacks."

'Held incommunicado'

Because he was captured in the US, Mr al-Marri could not be taken to Guantanamo. He has been detained since 2003 on a naval brig in South Carolina in a special unit which his lawyer says has 100 empty cells and where he claims he has been seriously mistreated.

Jonathan Hefetz, who said there is no evidence his client is an al-Qaeda agent, told the BBC: "He was held incommunicado for 16 months.

Debris in New York after the 9/11 attacks.
Mr al-Marri was arrested three months after the 9/11 attacks on the US

"There was no contact with the outside world, no contact with lawyers, no contact with family, no contact even with the Red Cross and that's when the worst abuses went on.

"He was subjected to a barrage of interrogation techniques that bordered on, if not amounted to torture - painful stress positions, extreme sensory deprivation, extreme isolation, threats of violence or death."

Mr al-Marri's brother Jarallah is now campaigning for his release. Jarallah al-Marri was himself held at Guantanamo Bay for almost seven years. He says his brother's predicament is much worse.

"I think my brother has a really hard time. In Guantanamo I can contact anybody. I can yell at some people close to me, some detainees. My brother cannot yell to the other detainees at all. He's just by himself," he said.

He said his brother should either be charged or released.

Though President Obama has signed an executive order for a thorough review of the case which was due to heard in the Supreme Court in the spring, he told reporters Ali al-Marri is "a clearly dangerous individual".

Print Sponsor

US court reviews enemy combatant
05 Dec 08 |  Americas
US 'cannot hold enemy combatant'
11 Jun 07 |  Americas

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific