The US Supreme Court yesterday refused a request by a Saudi prisoner in Guantanamo Bay that it take up his case. He is accused of masterminding the bombing of the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole in 2000. Seventeen US sailors were killed in the attack.
Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri’s lawyers argued that the military commission he is being tried before, which is taking place in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, is unconstitutional on the grounds that the United States was not engaged in direct combat with Al-Qaeda when the USS Cole bombing took place. The bombing, therefore, cannot be considered as a war crime that warrants a military commission trial.
In August 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a similar petition by Al-Nashiri to be tried before a federal court and outside Guantanamo Bay, where he has been detained since 2006. The appeals court said that it had to wait until Nashiri’s trial was over before he could file another appeal because a judicial precedent urges the judges not to intervene in the case until legal procedures in the military trial are over.
Last week, the Supreme Court rejected a similar petition by a Yemeni detainee in Guantanamo. Ali Hamza Al-Bahlul has been detained in the prison since 2002 over an accusation that he was Al-Qaeda’s publicist and an aide of Osama Bin Laden.