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'Sleeper cell' case raises authority questions

Man's case going through the court system
May 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The case of a U.S. resident accused of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent is raising questions about the extent of the president's wartime powers. Ali Al-Marri came to the U.S. legally, the day before the 9/11 attacks. He arrived on a student visa to pursue a master's degree in computer science at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.

But the government alleges he was sent by al-Qaida to use his computer skills to disrupt the U.S. banking system and serve as a liaison for other al-Qaeda operatives in the country.

Al-Marri was arrested in December 2001 and indicted more than a year later on charges of credit card fraud and lying to the FBI. A few months later, President Bush declared al-Marri an enemy combatant, stripping him of constitutional rights to question witnesses, refuse to testify or retain a lawyer. He was transferred to a military brig in South Carolina.

Al-Marri's case has been working its way through the court system. The latest ruling found that the case should be returned to the civilian system. An appeals court ruling is expected soon.

 

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