SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A Pentagon legal official approved war crimes charges Wednesday for a Pakistani detainee at Guantanamo who is accused of joining al-Qaida and taking part in a series of post-Sept. 11 terror plots after spending much of his youth in Maryland.
Majid Khan, 31, faces up to life in prison if convicted of charges that include murder, attempted murder and providing material support for terrorism.
The Pentagon's Convening Authority approved the charges two days after they were filed by military prosecutors, a process that has taken months of review in the past. That approval means the prisoner must be arraigned within 30 days before a military judge at the U.S. base in Cuba. The date of the arraignment has not yet been announced.
Khan lived as a child in the suburbs of Baltimore, graduating from high school in 1999 and working at gas stations in the area owned by his family, but he is a citizen of Pakistan. Prosecutors say he joined al-Qaida on a trip to his homeland, working directly with senior members of the terrorist organization, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The military has accused Khan of plotting with Mohammed to blow up underground fuel tanks in the U.S. and scheming to assassinate then President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. Khan also allegedly delivered $50,000 to help pay for the al-Qaida bombing of the J.W. Marriott hotel in Indonesia in August 2003, an attack that killed 11 people and wounded 81.
Khan was captured in March 2003 and held in a clandestine CIA prison, where his lawyers say he was tortured. He was transferred in September 2006 to Guantanamo, where he was with two of his lawyers, Wells Dixon and Katya Jestin, when he was served with the charges Monday.
"We are reviewing the charges, and will represent Majid throughout this process," Dixon and Jestin said in a statement. "Majid is doing well considering these challenging circumstances."
(This version CORRECTS they were approved two days after they were filed instead of one)
- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed