A Saudi man accused of plotting the 2000 bombing of the U.S. destroyer Cole walked into a military courtroom at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Wednesday morning, appearing in public for the first time since his capture nine years ago.
The arraignment of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri marked the beginning of the highest profile military commission trial since the Bush administration created the system after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Al-Nashiri, accused of being a leader of al-Qaida, could be executed if he is convicted, in what would be a first for the Guantanamo tribunals.
Al-Nashiri put off entering pleas to a series of charges — including murder in violation of the laws of war and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism — related to the Cole, a plot to attack another U.S. warship and an attack against a French supertanker.
The bombing of the Cole, as it was moored in a harbor off Aden, Yemen, killed 17 sailors.
Al-Nashiri's case is the first new case to move forward under President Barack Obama, who shut down the Bush administration's tribunals in one of his first acts after taking office.