Gitmo detainee transferred to U.S. to face charges

Ahmed Ghailani is to be tried for his alleged role in U.S. embassy bombings.

By Alex Koppelman

Published June 9, 2009 8:30PM (EDT)

It's begun: The first of what may be many detainees from Guantánamo Bay to be transferred to the U.S. for prosecution in civilian courts arrived in New York City on Tuesday.

The detainee, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailan, was captured in Pakistan in 2004 and has been held at Guantánamo since 2006, according to CNN. He faces charges related to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which killed more than 200 people.

This case will be very important for the Obama administration, which wants to prove that terror suspects can be moved from Guantánamo to the U.S. for trial and continued incarceration without any major problems. Over at the Corner, one of the National Review's blogs, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy -- who disagrees with the administration on Guantánamo and on the people held there -- says, "It's hard to see how [the administration] could have picked a better test case than Ghailani" for making its argument, something he's not happy about.

The reaction to the move has been a little quieter than might be expected, but some prominent Republicans have come out very strongly against it. In a statement, House Minority Leader John Boehner called it "the first step in the Democrats’ plan to import terrorists into America."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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