Alleged bomber's lawyer wants to question Yemeni leader


The motion to depose Ali Abdullah Saleh was under seal at the Pentagon Tuesday; the Yemeni president is in the United States recovering from burns suffered in an ‘Arab Spring’ explosion at his presidential compound in Sana’a.

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About Abd al Rahim al Nashiri.

Born: Jan. 5, 1965 Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Captured: October 2002 United Arab Emirates

Profession: Told a 2007 military review that he was a merchant in Mecca who by 19 was a millionaire. CIA profile released by the White House in 2006 as al Qaeda Operations Chief in Arabian Peninsula at time of his capture

Paramilitary background: CIA profile said he fought in Chechnya and Tajikistan and trained at the Khaldan camp in Afghanistan in 1992.

Audio of U.S. military’s 2007 status hearing for Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, with white noise replacing description of torture at

About the USS Cole

The 8,300-ton warship is based, or homeported, as the Navy calls it, in Norfolk, Virginia. It was commissioned, a formal ceremony, at Port Everglades, Florida, in 1996.

The ship is named for Marine Sgt. Darrell S. Cole, a bugler turned machine-gunner, who was killed in the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

It was on a refueling stop in October 2000 when two al Qaida suicide bombers detonated a bomb-laden skiff into the side, killing themselves and ultimately claiming the lives of 17 Americans.

They were: Hull Maintenance Technician Second Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21, of Mechanicsville, Va. Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, 35, of Morrisville, Pa. Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, of Woodleaf, N.C. Information Systems Technician Timothy Lee Gauna, 21, of Rice, Texas Signalman Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, of Rex, Ga. Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19, of Norfolk, Va. Engineman Second Class Marc Ian Nieto, 24, of Fond du Lac, Wis. Electronics Warfare Technician Second Class Ronald Scott Owens, 24, of Vero Beach, Fla. Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22, of San Diego, Calif. Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett, 19, of Churchville, Md. Fireman Patrick Howard Roy, 19, of Keedysville, Md. Electronics Warfare Technician First Class Kevin Shawn Rux, 30, of Portland, N.D. Mess Management Specialist Third Class Ronchester Manangan Santiago, 22, Kingsville, Texas Operations Specialist Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32, of Ringgold, Va. Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., 26, Rockport, Texas Ensign Andrew Triplett, 31, of Macon, Miss. Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport, Md.

Guantánamo defense lawyers for an alleged al Qaida bomber asked an Army judge on Tuesday to order Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to undergo war court questioning at a New York hospital.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes wouldn’t say what he wants to ask the former Yemeni strongman on behalf of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who faces a death penalty trial at Guantánamo next year. He did said he believed the chief military commissions judge could issue a subpoena that “would compel the Yemeni president to be deposed” — despite a U.S. State Department declaration that the 69-year-old Yemeni would receive diplomatic immunity as head of state.

Saleh arrived in the United States this weekend for treatment of burns he suffered in June during a bomb attack at his palace mosque amid a popular uprising to oust him from power. Elections for his replacement are slated for Feb. 21.

Pentagon prosecutors alleged that Nashiri, a self-described former millionaire from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, orchestrated al Qaeda’s bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen in October 2000 when Saleh was firmly in charge of his homeland. Suicide bombers blew up the $1 billion U.S. warship in Aden harbor, killing 17 U.S. sailors.

It was also during Saleh’s tenure that some other accused Cole bombers were captured, convicted and escaped from a Sana’a prison.

The filing was under seal Tuesday to give U.S. intelligence agencies time to scrub it.

Pentagon prosecutors have yet to respond, and a spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington had no comment.

The prosecution seeks the execution of Nashiri as Osama bin Laden’s alleged chief of Arabian Sea operations against both U.S. ships as well as the French oil tanker the Limburg. A crew member died in the October 2002 attack.

Defense lawyers argue that Nashiri’s case is tainted by torture because CIA agents waterboarded him and interrogated him with a revving drill and a handgun cocked near his head before his transfer to the U.S. Navy base in Cuba in September 2006 for trial.

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