Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Terrorism on the Prairie

One of the battlegrounds of the war on terror is our own backyard. Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri was a citizen of Qatar and a legal resident of the US, living with his family and attending Bradley University. Al-Marri is on trial in a federal court in Peoria.

Al-Marri had been arrested in 2001 and charged with credit card fraud in 2002, but was then detained as an enemy combatant and transferred to a brig in South Carolina in 2003. He was held there without charges and without access to a lawyer until 2004. He's been involved in complicated litigation since then. He was finally released from the brig in February 2009, only to be arrested for terrorism charges and transferred back to Peoria. Although he wasn't transferred to Guantanamo, he was isolated from other prisoners, denied access to all reading materials other than the Koran, and subjected to extreme cold.

The bottom line is that with the change of administration, al-Marri is going to be tried by a civilian court rather than these ginned up military commissions. And the conditions he was subjected to in the brig are likely to come out.

If those of us on the Prairie can possibly make it, the federal courthouse in Peoria is going to be the place to be for the next several months.


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