An Al Qaeda member on trial in a US military court over the bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in 2000 allegedly plotted other attacks on western targets in Dubai, Saudi and Qatar, a court document shows.
Abd Al Rahim Al Nashiri, a Saudi national of Yemeni descent, is accused of masterminding the attack on the USS Cole and is alleged to have led cells in Qatar, Saudi, the UAE and Yemen as Al Qaeda’s operations chief in the Arabian Peninsula.
He was arrested in Dubai in 2002 and is on trial at the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal after being detained at the prison in Cuba since 2006.
In the documents, it says Al Nashiri and his cousin, Jihad Muhammad Abu Ali are accused of taking part in an operation sponsored by Osama bin Ladin in 1998 to smuggle Sagger missiles into Saudi for use against an unspecified US military target.
The US claimed he was later instructed to target a US military ship in the Port of Aden in Yemen, with the first attempt in January 2000 failing after a boat laden with explosives sank, before the successful attack on the USS Cole in October.
The attack killed 17 US servicemen and injured about 40 others.
According to the document, at the time of Al Nashiri’s arrest, he was allegedly arranging funding for a plot to crash a small airplane into the bridge of a western navy vessel in Port Rashid in the UAE.
“He was also orchestrating additional attacks, one targeting a US housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which he had planned for mid-2003,” it said.
“Other plots that Nashiri was involved in included a car bomb attack against a Saudi military installation at Tabuk aimed at killing US military personnel, attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Gibraltar and western warships passing through the Port of Dubai, and attacks against land-based targets in Morocco, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”
Al Nashiri, 49, has already been convicted and sentenced to death in Yemen in absentia for his part in the USS Cole bombing.
Last week it emerged lawyers for Al Nashiri were seeking to halt the case, which is in pre-trial hearings at Guantanamo Bay, after they filed motions in federal court in Washington seeking a preliminary injunction in an apparent bid to block a military trial for the USS Cole bombing, Politico reported.
They have previously argued that some or all of the charges against him are invalid because the USS Cole bombing predated the September 11, 2001 attacks and the subsequent Congressional authorisation for the use of force against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the news outlet reported.
A military judge has ordered the CIA to explain where Al Nashiri was held during a four-year gap between his capture in Dubai and appearance in Guantanamo Bay.
The US government has already admitted that Al Nashiri was “water boarded” - a form of torture where a person’s head is kept under water for long periods of time during interrogation – but refused to say where he was held over those years.