GUANTANAMO BAY/CUBA: After nearly nine years of incarceration, the first high-value detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Majid Khan plead guilty to terrorism charges against him, as part of a plea-bargain agreement.
In his first public appearance since his arrest, Khan, 32, was clad in a dark suit, a pink tie, a crew cut haircut, bespectacled and sporting a goatee. Denying the use of an interpreter, Khan spoke in an American accent, a throwback from the years he spent in a US high school and his time in Baltimore, Maryland from 1996 to 2002. Khan said, “I have been trying to contact the Embassy of Pakistan for nine years…I want to officially request that I want a Pakistani lawyer down the road.”
However, he expressed satisfaction with his current representation.
Khan’s lawyer Jonathon Dixon asked the judge to seal parts of the plea-bargain agreement as it might endanger the lives of Khan’s friends and family.
The prosecution had disagreed on Khan’s motion to seal parts of the agreement. While the prosecution lawyer Courtney Sullivan said, “We are not disputing a theoretical risk to individuals in foreign countries, “adding that some of the information was already in the public domain though it was not in the public interest to do so. Dixon, on behalf of his client asked to introduce a classified document detailing why they felt that there was a need to keep sealed certain sections of the plea-bargain agreement in the near future.
The judge however, denied the defense’s motion to seal parts of the plea-bargain agreement.
According to sources, Majid Khan’s parents, who reside in Maryland, did not come to Fort Meade to see the CCTV proceedings of the arraignment hearing.
During the hearing, Khan, when responding to the different charges against him, said that he never met Osama Bin Laden, who he referred to as “Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.” Khan also said that he did not know the money he delivered in 2003 were for the purpose of the Indonesia hotel bombing in August of 2003.
In a copy of the pre-trial agreement seen by The Express Tribune, Khan has agreed to cooperate fully and truthfully with the government. He has also agreed to provide “complete and accurate information” in interviews, depositions and testimony. The agreement also says that the convening authority will recommend to the JTF-GTMO commander that as long as “Khan is fully and truthfully cooperating” with the authorities, he should not be detained at Camp VII.
According to the pre-trial agreement discussed in court, the maximum sentence that the convening authority can impose on Khan is lighter 19 years.
The sentencing is due to take place in 2016. The four years that Khan is to serve in confinement from current day to 2016 will be credited to the sentence that is awarded to him.
When discussing the pre-trial agreement, Judge Pohl said that that Khan cannot sue the United States for capture, detention, prosecution, confinement and post-confinement. Khan said that he also might be held post serving his sentence, but he could seek relief from the courts.
In response, Khan said, “So basically you’re saying I can’t sue the CIA…this agreement does not guarantee that I can ever get free…I’m making a leap of faith here. That’s all I can do.” The censor at the commission imposed white noise and cut the CCTV proceedings’ feed at the mention of the CIA, which was resumed shortly after the judge told Khan not to mention the defendants.
Khan was reportedly kept in a CIA secret prison from 2003 to 2006, before he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006. While at the detention facility, Khan reportedly tried to commit suicide twice, once by “chewing on his veins.”
Khan, as a high-value detainee, was detained at Camp VII, where 14 other high value detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, are imprisoned. The Washington Post had earlier reported that Khan had been transferred out of Camp VII before his hearing.
Judge Pohl accepted Khan’s plea of guilty, and advised Khan that he could withdraw from the agreement if he chose to. Khan is due to be sentenced in four years. The commission proceedings have come to an end.
Khan had been accused, amongst other charges, of plotting to assassinate the former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in 2002, and helping provide financing for the 2003 bomb blast in Indonesia. Khan is also accused of plotting with Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the 9/11 mastermind, to carry out attacks in the United States.