Civilian Court Clears Gitmo Detainee of 284 Terror Charges

Jury Acquits Ghailani in 'Setback' for Obama

A New York civilian court has acquitted long-time Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Khaifan Ghailani of all 284 terror related charges, agreeing only to find him guilty of a single count of “conspiracy to damage or destroy US property.”

Ghailani had been one of the “FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists” since the inception of the list in 2001, accused of a role in the 1998 embassy bombings, and had been at Guantanamo Bay and assorted “Black Sites” from his capture in 2004 through 2009, when he was transferred to New York City to stand trial as a terrorist.

His trial first centered around the question of whether five years in secret detention subjected to enhanced interrogation counted as a “speedy trial” as guaranteed under the US Constitution. The prosecution argued that he had no such rights because of 9/11, even though Ghailani was never accused of having anything to do with 9/11.

The verdict is being called a “setback” for the Obama Administration, and is fueling speculation that they won’t allow any more civilian trials since they are not the virtually guaranteed victories the military tribunals have been.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.