“High-profile detainee” and alleged al-Qaeda operative Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was arraigned Wednesday before a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba. The U.S. government has charged al-Nashiri with war crimes related to his alleged role in the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, an attack that killed 17 sailors. The defendant is additionally charged with the bombing of a French merchant vessel in 2002, and a planned attack on the American naval warship the USS The Sullivans, also in 2000.
Guarded by an escort of American servicemen, al-Nashiri entered the courtroom dressed in his white prison jumpsuit. He was clean-shaven and wearing his hair very short.
Sitting at a table flanked by his cohort of defense attorneys, al-Nashiri appeared confident, smiling occasionally and at one point waving to the media and other observers sitting behind a glass barrier.
The arraignment of al-Nashiri is historic in that it is the first of such tribunals to be held since the system was created during the George W. Bush administration in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The proceeding is especially noteworthy in that not only is it the first military tribunal of a Guantanamo prisoner, but, if convicted, al-Nashiri faces the death penalty.
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Photo of Guantanamo: AP Images