Thursday, July 8, 2010; A03
A Sudanese man accused of guarding Osama bin Laden and helping him escape U.S. forces in Afghanistan pleaded guilty at Guantanamo Bay on Wednesday, giving the Obama administration its first conviction in the controversial war crimes court.
Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi pleaded guilty to conspiring with al-Qaeda and providing material support for terrorism, said Guantanamo Bay court spokesman Joe DellaVedova.
Qosi, who ran the kitchen and provided supplies at bin Laden's Star of Jihad compound near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, has been held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba for more than eight years.
His sentence could range from no additional time to life imprisonment. A panel of U.S. military officers will be assembled at Guantanamo to hear evidence and deliberate his sentence at a hearing set for Aug. 9.
The terms of his plea agreement were not disclosed, but it seemed unlikely that he would have pleaded guilty to both charges without some limit on his sentence.
Qosi is only the fourth prisoner convicted in the controversial military tribunals since the Guantanamo Bay detention camp opened in January 2002.
But his efforts to shut down the camp have been stymied by Congress, including some members of his own party, and his administration opted to tweak the Guantanamo court system rather than scrap it.
The detention camp now holds 181 prisoners. The Obama administration plans to try about three dozen of them at the prison or in federal courts, including five accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, while holding 48 others indefinitely and repatriating or resettling the rest.
Qosi, 50, was charged by the U.S. military with acting as a driver and bodyguard for bin Laden and helping the al-Qaeda leader escape to the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. He was also accused of being part of an al-Qaeda mortar crew.