Salim Ahmed Hamdan, left, sits with lawyers in a courtroom sketch from a hearing in late 2007.
Osama bin Laden’s alleged driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, was convicted Wednesday by a military court on five counts of supporting terrorism. The decision was largely symbolic, since the U.S. had reserved the right, regardless of guilt or innocence, to detain Hamdan indefinitely. The ACLU called the verdict a “monumental debacle.”
A military jury today found Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the first al-Qaida suspect to be charged at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, guilty of material support for terrorism but innocent of conspiracy charges.
Hamdan, a 40-year-old Yemeni national who served as a driver for Osama bin Laden, faces life in prison after his conviction. Even if he had won acquittal on all counts, the US government had reserved the right to hold Hamdan indefinitely.
The conviction brings the White House’s fight to try terrorist suspects full circle. It was Hamdan whose challenge to the original Guantánamo tribunals prompted a 2006 US supreme court ruling that conspiracy—the charge that not did win a conviction—is not a war crime.