US charges sworn against Pakistani national

Washington: A Pakistani national, with alleged links to al Qaeda, has been charged in the US for planning terrorist attacks at the behest of the network, including a plot to assassinate former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf and blow up US gas stations.

The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that the military commission charges have been sworn against Guantanamo Bay detainee Majod Shoukat Khan, who allegedly plotted attacks and acted as an al-Qaeda courier after the 9/11 attacks.

Khan, who lived in the US from 1996 to 2002 before returning to Pakistan is charged with conspiracy, murder and attempted murder in violation of the law of war, providing material support for terrorism and spying.

The charges against Khan, who is alleged to have worked for 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are the first filed against him in the US Military Commissions system.

It is alleged that Khan, 31, joined members of al Qaeda in Pakistan to plan and prepare attacks against diverse targets in the US, Indonesia, and elsewhere after Sept 11, 2001.

Specifically, they allege that Khan used a fraudulently obtained travel document to travel from his residence in Baltimore, to Karachi in January of 2002; and conspired with 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed regarding a plot to blow up underground gasoline storage tanks at gas stations in the US and other domestic plots.

At Khalid Sheikh`s direction, the charges said, Khan recorded a "martyr video," donned an explosive vest, and sat in a mosque waiting for Musharraf to arrive so that he could assassinate him, an attempt that went redundant as Musharraf never arrived.

According to the charges, Khan travelled in March 2002 from Karachi to Baltimore, where he performed tasks for al Qaeda and Khalid Sheikh, including purchasing a laptop computer for al Qaeda and contacting a military recruiter to obtain materials regarding the United States military, which he intended to give to his boss.

Upon returning to Pakistan in August 2002, Khan worked directly for Khalid Sheikh, Ali Abdul al-Aziz Ali, and other al Qaeda associates, all of whom were evading capture by US and Pakistani authorities, the Department of Defence said.

At the direction of Khalid Sheikh and Ali Abdul al-Aziz Ali, Khan traveled with his wife in December 2002 from Pakistan to Bangkok, where he evaded notice by posing as a tourist, the Department of Defence said.

While in Bangkok, Khan delivered USD 50,000 in al Qaeda funds to a southeast Asia-based al Qaeda affiliate, which in turn delivered the money to the allied terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which used the funding to detonate a bomb in August of 2003 at the J W Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, killing 11 people, wounding at least 81 others, and severely damaging the hotel, the Defence Department statement said.

Chief Prosecutor Mark Martins has forwarded the sworn charges to Convening Authority Bruce MacDonald with a recommendation that the charges be referred to military commission for trial.

Martins has not recommended that any of the charges be referred to a military commission empowered to adjudge the death penalty, and therefore the maximum allowable penalty for the charged offences is life imprisonment.

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