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Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian, was initially indicted by federal prosecutors in New York in December 1998 for the August 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania but was a fugitive at the time. His four co-defendants were tried in US federal court in 2001 and sentenced to life without parole.

Ghailani was captured in Pakistan in 2004 and held for years at a secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) "black site." He was transferred to Guantanamo in 2006.

In March 2008, in spite of the existing federal indictment, the US government announced that it planned to bring charges against Ghailani in the military commission system. The only new charge sworn before the military commission was that Ghailani continued to provide material support and resources to Al-Qaeda from 1998 until 2004.

Ghailani was also accused of murder in violation of the laws of war, attacking civilians and civilian objects, causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the laws of war, terrorism, and conspiracy to commit terrorism. When these charges were formally referred in October 2008, prosecutors did not request the death penalty.

Ghailani was awaiting his trial by military commission when President Barack Obama suspended the military commissions in January 2009. However, in June 2009, shortly after the president announced plans to revive the military commissions but “when feasible” try detainees in federal court, Ghailani was transferred from Guantanamo to face a federal trial. He was arraigned in a federal district court in New York on June 9, 2009 and pleaded not guilty to involvement in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The government announced in October 2009 that it would not be seeking the death penalty. His trial began in the Southern District of New York in late September of 2010. On November 17, 2010, Ghailani was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to destroy US government property and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Unlike some of the other so-called “high value detainees,” Ghailani did not allege at his combatant status review tribunal at Guantanamo that he was tortured in U.S. custody. In court filings earlier this year, however, he wrote that he was “a victim of the cruel ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’” and that he was “never afforded the right to remain silent nor the right to have an attorney.” (Last updated December 1, 2012)


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