| GEO World|
| 1st Gitmo detainee arrives in US|
| Updated at: 1702 PST, Tuesday, June 09, 2009|
WASHINGTON: U.S. authorities have brought the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to the United States, flying him into NewYork to face trial for bombing U.S. embassies, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
The department said Ahmed Ghailani arrived in the early morning hours Tuesday, to be held in U.S. law enforcement custody until his trial in federal court in lower Manhattan. Ghailani was expected to make his initial appearance in Manhattan federal court later Tuesday.
``With his appearance in federal court today, Ahmed Ghailani is being held accountable for his alleged role in the bombing of U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the murder of 224 people,'' Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press release. ``The Justice Department has a long history of securely detaining and successfully prosecuting terror suspects through the criminal justice system, and we will bring that experience to bear in seeking justice in this case.''
Ghailani's trial will be an important test case for the Obama administration's plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo in seven months and bring some of the suspects to trial.
Ghailani was indicted in 1998 for the al-Qaida bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, attacks which killed more than 224 people, including 12 Americans.
U.S. officials charge Ghailani began his terrorist career on a bicycle delivering bomb parts and rose through the al-Qaida ranks to become a bodyguard to Osama bin Laden.
Ghailani, a Tanzanian, was in his twenties when prosecutors say he helped terrorists build one of the bombs that destroyed U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.
He left Africa just before the bombings, according to investigators.
After the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings at U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Ghailani worked for al-Qaida as a document forger, trainer at a terror camp and bodyguard to bin Laden, according to military prosecutors.
He was categorized as a high-value detainee by U.S. authorities after he was captured in Pakistan in 2004 and was transferred to the detention center at the U.S. naval base in Cuba two years later.
Since his capture, Ghailani has denied knowing the TNT and oxygen tanks he delivered would be used to make a bomb. He also denied buying a vehicle used in one of the attacks, saying he could not drive.
Now, the Obama administration is trying to put him into the U.S. criminal justice system, despite claims by Republican critics that doing so would endanger American lives. Some lawmakers have opposed bringing any Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. for trial, even in heavily guarded settings.
Last month, President Barack Obama said that preventing Ghailani from coming to U.S. soil ``would prevent his trial and conviction. And after over a decade, it is time to finally see that justice is served, and that is what we intend to do.''