A Sudanese man described as an al Qaeda paymaster was formally charged Friday with conspiring to commit terrorism.

Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi was the last of four suspected al Qaeda fighters held at the U.S. military prison here to appear before a military commission this week for pretrial hearings on charges that carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Qosi, 44, wore a skullcap and stroked his beard during the brief hearing. He waived formal reading of the charges and did not enter a plea.

The hearing was cut short and rescheduled for early October because a conflicting assignment had prevented his military lawyer from preparing his case.

According to the charges, Qosi joined al Qaeda in 1989 while its leader, Osama bin Laden, lived in Sudan and became an accountant and money manager for the group. In Sudan and Pakistan, he distributed salaries and funds to buy explosives and weapons and signed checks on bin Laden's behalf, the government alleges.

From 1996 until his capture in December 2001, he allegedly served as a driver and bodyguard for bin Laden in Afghanistan.

President Bush authorized the military commissions to try foreign militants after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. This is the first time the United States has held such proceedings since the end of World War II.