GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — A former driver for Osama bin Laden knew the target of the fourth hijacked plane on Sept. 11, a prosecutor said Tuesday as he sought to undercut defense arguments that the Guantanamo prisoner was a low-level employee of the terrorist leader.
Salim Hamdan, the first prisoner to face a U.S. war crimes trial since World War II, heard bin Laden say the plane was heading for "the dome," an apparent reference to the U.S. Capitol, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Stone.
The plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field as passengers overcame the hijackers. "Virtually no one knew the intended target, but the accused knew," Stone told the jury of six U.S. military officers in his opening statement.
Hamdan is charged with conspiracy and aiding terrorism. The defense says the prisoner, a Yemeni with a fourth-grade education, was merely a driver for bin Laden and had no significant role in al-Qaida's terrorist attacks. "The evidence is that he worked for wages, he didn't wage attacks on America," attorney Harry Schneider told the jury. "He had a job because he had to earn a living, not because he had a jihad against America."
Prosecutors say that he helped the al-Qaida leader evade U.S. retribution after the Sept. 11 attacks and transport weapons for the Taliban in Afghanistan.