Guantanamo Bay detainee Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi, Osama bin Laden's former chef, has given the Obama administration its first conviction by military commission, pleading guilty to providing material support for terrorism. As Spencer Ackerman reports, al-Qosi wasn't the most fearsome character:
But the former al-Qaeda chef wasn’t exactly cooking up anthrax in his kitchen. “During questioning under oath, al Qosi admitted that while he provided logistical support,” a Defense Department announcement of the plea reads. “He knew al Qaeda engaged in acts of terrorism. He admitted that he knew that al-Qaeda was and is recognized around the world as an international terrorist organization.” It’s another example of the Obama administration going after the right targets at Guantanamo Bay.
The government’s charging documents in al-Qosi’s military commission do not ever accuse him of discharging a weapon in anger. He drove bin Laden around in Sudan and Afghanistan; he provided unspecified “supply services” to bin Laden; he was issued an AK-47 as part of his stint on bodyguard detail the month before 9/11; he fought in a “mortar crew” near Kabul; and he was part of the al-Qaeda crew that escaped into Tora Bora.
According to Muna Shikaki of Al-Arabiya, al-Qosi's plea deal will get him home to the Sudan by 2012. Since al-Qosi was apprehended in 2002, that would make his sentence about 10 years if we include time served at Gitmo.
So as far as the military commissions go, if Shikaki's reporting pans out al-Qosi's sentence should be seen as one of the harsher ones -- David Hicks, an Australian who fought for the Taliban and was captured
in Afghanistan in 2001 and detained for six years, got a nine-month sentence as part of a plea
agreement in 2007. Salim Hamdan, bin Laden's former driver, was also detained for six years before receiving a five-month sentence following his conviction in 2008. Only Ali al-Bahlul, the al-Qaeda propagandist who boycotted his own trial, received a substantial sentence of life imprisonment.
Just to put that in perspective, the average terrorism conviction in
civilian court, nearly half of which are achieved
under the material support statutes, yields
an average sentence of about 13 years.
The big question is, will this lead to another classic cartoon from Matt Bors?