The plea deal between the government and a terrorist detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “is a significant milestone in the war against terror,” says Heritage Foundation legal scholar Charles Stimson.
Majid Khan’s plea deal, in which he agreed to testify against other terrorists, may mean more trials and more guilty pleas by terrorists, Stimson argues. The government followed a similar model in taking down the Gambino crime family in New York.
Khan pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, murder, support for terrorism, and spying before a military commission. In exchange for his plea and cooperation in testifying against future detainees, he will receive a prison sentence capped at 25 years.
But how did this extraordinary plea agreement come to pass?
After the 9/11 attacks, Khan, who had graduated from Owings Mills High School in Baltimore, traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, to “explore the possibility of entering Afghanistan and understanding jihad from close terrorist associates.
Once in Pakistan, an unnamed co-conspirator introduced Khan to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Khan told KSM that his family owned gas stations in the United States, and they discussed a plot to blow up underground gasoline storage tanks at gas stations in the United States and poison water reservoirs. KSM ordered Khan to attend training on explosive device detonators and timers and then return to Baltimore in furtherance of the conspiracy.
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