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Long in jail, alleged al-Qaida agent in US court

 This Jan. 16, 2009 photo released by the International Committee of the Red Cross via his lawyer Andy Savage, shows Ali Al-Marri at the Charleston Na...
 This March 10, 2009 courtroom drawing from U.S. District Court shows alleged al Qaida sleeper agent Ali al-Marri as he made an initial appearance wit...

Enemy Combatant

This Jan. 16, 2009 photo released by the International Committee of the Red Cross via his lawyer Andy Savage, shows Ali Al-Marri at the Charleston Na...

Enemy Combatant

This March 10, 2009 courtroom drawing from U.S. District Court shows alleged al Qaida sleeper agent Ali al-Marri as he made an initial appearance wit...

Alleged al-Qaida sleeper agent Ali al-Marri, smiling and seemingly relaxed, appeared in federal court Tuesday to face terror charges _ his first time outside a nearby military brig in more than five years.
Al-Marri, who had been held without charge as an enemy combatant, now faces civilian federal charges in Illinois of providing material support to terror and conspiracy.
President Barack Obama last month ordered al-Marri surrendered to civil authorities after he was indicted in federal court in Peoria, Illinois. Around the same time, the administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss a legal challenge by al-Marri to his military detention, which the court last week agreed to do.
The 43-year-old Qatar native made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Carr, telling the judge he understood the charges and his rights. He is expected to enter a formal plea when returned to Illinois.
But al-Marri will appear again before Carr on March 18 as his attorney, Andy Savage, argues that he should be released on bond.
Until his transfer or release on bond, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to keep al-Marri in a civilian cell at the Navy brig where he's been held since 2003, allowing him more access to his attorneys than he had during his years of detention as an enemy combatant.
Handcuffed and wearing a gray, hooded sweat shirt, gray sweat pants, a long black beard flecked with gray and a close-fitting cap, al-Marri entered the courtroom for the 10-minute hearing and shared a quiet laugh with Savage.
He smiled and glanced around the courtroom as his attorney pointed out courtroom officials.
Al-Marri replied "Yes, sir" when asked whether he understood the charges and his rights and whether Savage was his attorney.
Six U.S. marshals stood by the back door of the courtroom during the hearing while four others stood directly behind the defense table.
Savage told reporters later his client was glad to get out of the brig, if only for a short time.
"He was very pleased to be outside and very pleased to be in a court environment but it was dark outside and he was disappointed he didn't get to see much of Charleston," Savage said.
He said his client is doing well, considering his long detention in what the lawyer called isolation.
"You saw his characteristics _ he's calm, he's collected, smiling, engaged and interested in what's going on," Savage said.
"This is a fella whose picture just went to his family last month. This is a fella who has only had three phone calls with his family, three of those being in the last year," he added.
Savage said he would argue next week that al-Marri should be released on bond, but would not say whom he will call to testify.


Updated : 2021-05-12 03:46 GMT+08:00