Federal authorities have declared a Qatari man who was in the United States on a student visa an “enemy combatant” who allegedly led an effort to settle Al Qaeda “sleeper” operatives in this country. The Los Angeles Times says President Bush signed the order switching control of Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, 37, from the Justice Department to the Pentagon – the first time such a transfer has occurred.
The change denies Al-Marri nearly all of the rights afforded criminal suspects in civilian court, including access to a lawyer and a show-cause hearing before a judge. As an enemy combatant, he could eventually be tried before a military tribunal.
Along with Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi, Al-Marri is the third person publicly designated by name as an enemy combatant since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – and the only one who is not a U.S. citizen. Hundreds of unidentified men captured during the war in Afghanistan are being detained and interrogated at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.