A Somali terror suspect captured and interrogated by the U.S. military in the Gulf of Aden will face a federal indictment in New York, placing the man at the center of an ongoing debate about how and where to try terror suspects.
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame stands accused of providing support to Al Shabab and Al Qaeda ion the Arabian Peninsula, both terrorist organizations. President Barack Obama has drawn fire from supporters for reneging on his promise to begin trying terrorism suspects in civilian court, rather than in the military tribunals like the one that accused September 11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will face. Obama's decision to try Warsame on U.S. soil, in a conventional courtroom, was immediately controversial.
The transfer of this terrorist detainee directly contradicts Congressional intent and the will of the American people, U.S. Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif., said in a staement. Congress has spoken clearly multiple times -- including explicitly in pending legislation -- of the perils of bringing terrorists onto U.S. soil.'
Military officials had already questioned Warsame on a U.S. Navy ship, allowing them to glean intelligence from the man outside of the constraints of the normal judicial process. That could dampen some criticism, as could the fact that trying him in civilian court requires a lower standard of proof. A military commission would need to prove that he was actively engaged in hostilities.
An official described Warsame as an important conduit between Al Qaeda and Al Shabab, noting that he was captured on a boat traveling between Yemen and Somalia. Another official described his interrogation as very, very productive.