(AFP) – May 13, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The Pentagon has dropped charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani, the alleged "20th hijacker" in the September 11 attacks on the United States, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.
Susan Crawford, the convening authority for war crimes trials by special military commissions, gave no explanation in dropping the charges against al-Qahtani "without prejudice," said Commander Jeffrey Gordon.
"They have been dismissed without prejudice, which means they can be reinstituted at any time," he said of the charges.
Crawford on Monday referred charges against five other September 11 co-conspirators, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 2001 attacks.
The US government alleges that Al-Qahtani was supposed to have been one of the hijackers that flew commandeered airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But he was denied entry at Orlando International Airport in August 2001.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld later authorized the use of a special regime of harsh interrogation tactics against al-Qhatani after he was captured in Afghanistan and taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He reportedly was subjected to sleep deprivation, loud music, and extremes of temperature during interrogations lasting 20 hours a day.
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