Jury in the US con­victs ex-Rus­sian soldier of terror-re­lated charges

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY LARRY O’DELL

A U.S. jury on Fri­day night con­victed a for­mer Rus­sian mil­i­tary tank com­man­der of plan­ning and lead­ing a Tal­iban at­tack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Irek Hamidullin showed no ex­pres­sion as guilty ver­dicts were read on all 15 counts, in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing ma­te­rial sup­port to ter­ror­ism, at­tempt­ing to de­stroy U.S. air­craft and con­spir­acy to use a weapon of mass de­struc­tion. He faces up to life in prison. Sen­tenc­ing was set for Nov. 6.

The ver­dict came af­ter eight hours of de­lib­er­a­tions and five days of tes­ti­mony.

De­fense at­tor­ney Rob Wag­ner de­clined to say whether the con­vic­tions will be ap­pealed.

The case ad­dressed the novel ques­tion of whether an en­emy com­bat­ant cap­tured on a for­eign bat­tle­field can be con­victed in civil- ian court of be­ing a ter­ror­ist. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is try­ing to show it can use the crim­i­nal court sys­tem to deal with terror sus­pects — a move crit­i­cized by some law­mak­ers who be­lieve such cases should be han­dled by mil­i­tary tri­bunals — but the bat­tle­field cap­ture of Hamidullin and his trans­port to the U.S. for trial makes his case dif­fer­ent from oth­ers.

De­fense at­tor­neys had tried un­suc­cess­fully to have the in­dict­ment dis­missed, ar­gu­ing that Hamidullin, 55, was es­sen­tially a pris­oner of war and in­el­i­gi­ble for trial in civil­ian court.

De­fense at­tor­ney Paul Gill re­newed the ar­gu­ment in his clos­ing re­marks to the jury ear­lier Fri­day.

“This is war — ev­ery­one talks about it, that’s what ev­ery­one has heard,” he said. “Those kinds of con­flicts do not and should not come to this court.”

Pros­e­cu­tors said fed­eral law pro­tects U.S. sol­diers no mat­ter where they are. As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Michael Gill said the ev­i­dence clearly shows he vi­o­lated U.S. laws.

“He made con­fi­dent, con­sis­tent and cor­rob­o­rated con­fes­sions,” the pros­e­cu­tor said in clos­ing ar­gu­ments.

Hamidullin did not tes­tify. In se­cretly recorded in­ter­views, he talked about plan­ning the at­tack but de­nied ever fir­ing a shot. He told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he was do­ing “God’s work.”

The judge barred the gov­ern­ment from us­ing the word “ter­ror­ist” and pros­e­cu­tors were not al­lowed to men­tion Osama bin Laden.

Ac­cord­ing to U. S. of­fi­cials, Hamidullin is a Rus­sian vet­eran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan who stayed in the coun­try and joined the Haqqani Net­work, a Tal­ibanaf­fil­i­ated mil­i­tant group. He al­legedly led three groups of in­sur­gents in a 2009 at­tack on Afghan bor­der po­lice in Khowst province.

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