Washington: A Sudanese man who served as a bodyguard and driver for al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden has pleaded guilty before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to assisting bin Laden and others in plotting the 9/11 attacks.
In the first case prosecuted under the Obama administration at Guantanamo, 50-year-old Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi on Wednesday pleaded guilty to supporting al Qaeda and conspiring to commit terrorism between August 1996 and December 2001, during which he served as a driver for bin Laden. He was arrested in December 2001.
Al Qosi said he fled to the mountains in eastern Afghanistan when the US forces closed in, Xinhua reported.
He could face life in prison. The plea provided a window into the movements of al Qaeda leading up to the 9/11 attacks.
He lived with bin Laden and other members of the group at a compound near Jalalabad in Afghanistan from 1996 to 1998 before he and the rest of the group relocated to Kandahar. He also fought in support of al Qaeda as part of a mortar crew.
About two weeks before 9/11, al Qosi and others followed bin Laden`s orders to evacuate the Kandahar compound. Armed with AK-47 assault rifles, al Qosi and others travelled in a convoy with bin Laden and camped between Kabul, Khost and Jalalabad.
From October through December of 2001, al Qosi and others travelled with bin Laden to the mountainous Tora Bora area along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
In the first two weeks of December 2001, al Qosi and others travelled away from bin Laden in Tora Bora, where they came under fire by US forces and were subsequently captured. He has been held ever since.
Al Qosi will be sentenced on August 09. He will remain at Guantanamo Bay for the time being, and it is not yet known where he will serve out his sentence.
"That probably will be determined at the highest levels of government," said Navy Capt David C Iglesias, official spokesman in the case and a commission prosecutor for two years.
Obama has promised to close the infamous Guantanamo prison facility, but has so far failed to deliver. Al Qosi is only the fourth person prosecuted under the military commission. He is the second to plead guilty. Two others were convicted in trials.