Ali Al Bahlul was born in Yemen on September 11, 1969. His family moved to Saudi Arabia when he was about 4 years old. Bahlul told US interrogators he fought against the communist government in Afghanistan for a year and a half in the early 1990s.
Bahlul was captured by Pakistani forces with a group attempting to flee from Afghanistan to Pakistan in December 2001. The US government believes many members of the group were Bin Laden body guards. He was turned over to US custody later that same month.
Bahlul was sent to Guantanamo on January 11, 2001, the day the first War on Terror prisoners arrived at the prison.
In February 2008 Bahlul was charged in a military commission with conspiracy, solicitation to murder, and material support for terrorism.
At his trial the prosecution alleged and Bahlul did not dispute the following facts.
Bahlul traveled to Afghanistan in 1999 to join Al Qaeda and underwent military style training at an Al Qaeda training camp. He joined Al Qaeda by pledging loyalty to Osama Bin Laden.
Bahlul helped create a recruitment video for Al Qaeda using footage of the destruction of the USS Cole. FBI interrogator Ali Soufan testified Bahlul proudly admitted producing the video during one of his interrogations. Bahlul acted as both personal secretary and media secretary to Osama Bin Laden. He operated data processing and media communications equipment for Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
He arranged for one of the 9/11 hijackers to join Al Qaeda. He prepared the video wills of two of the 9/11 hijackers prior to the attacks. After the operation took place, he researched its economic effect for Bin Laden.
Both FBI agent Ali Soufan and Navy interrogator Robert McFadden testified Bahlul had told them American civilians were legitimate targets because they, “are paying taxes and supporting the war against Al Qaeda.”
Bahlul refused to put on a defense at his trial. His lawyer, David Frakt, respected Bahlul’s wishes and did not make any legal arguments, cross-examine any witnesses or offer a closing statement.
Bahlul’s lawyer David Frakt said Bahlul boycotted the trial because, “he never viewed the court as legitimate; he said he answered only to Allah.”
I discussed Al Bahlul’s trial with his attorney David Frakt on Public Occurrences. (That discussion begins at 2 minutes 51 seconds into the video.)
Bahlul was convicted of all three charges.
In the sentencing phase of the trial Bahlul said he volunteered to participate in the 9/11 attacks. He also claimed the US was responsible for the deaths on innocent civilians over the past 50 years and as a result, “we give you the same cup you have given us.”
Bahlul was sentenced to life in prison.
And then the appeals began.