Share this article

print logo

Two linked locally to al-Qaida will testify Gitmo case involves ex-bin Laden aide

At least two members of the "Lackawanna Six" are headed to Guantanamo Bay to testify as witnesses in the case of a man who is accused of producing motivational videos for al-Qaida.

Yahya Goba is one of the two former Lackawanna men who have been called to be prosecution witnesses against a Yemeni man named Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al Bahlul, two sources familiar with the case told The Buffalo News on Friday. The identity of the other Lackawanna Six witness is unknown.

Al Bahlul is accused by the U.S. Military Commission of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to attack civilians and civilian objects, and terrorism.

In court papers filed by the commission, he is accused of having worked as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, and of being "personally assigned" by bin Laden to work in the al-Qaida "media office."

The commission alleges that al Bahlul was directed by bin Laden to create a video glorifying the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole to "recruit" and "motivate" Muslims to attack America.

Such a video was shown to a group of Lackawanna men -- including Goba -- when they traveled to an al-Qaida terrorist camp in Afghanistan in early 2001, federal prosecutors said.

"From 2000 until November 2001, al Bahlul routinely traveled in a caravan of vehicles with [bin Laden]. While traveling, al Bahlul was armed and wore an explosives-laden belt so that he could provide . . . bin Laden with physical security and protection," the commission also charged.

Al Bahlul, 39, has called the proceedings against him a "legal farce," according to an Aug. 16 Associated Press report from the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

The detention center has been criticized by human rights groups who allege that more than 200 men are being held there without receiving a legitimate chance to defend themselves against terrorist allegations.

Goba was one of six men from Lackawanna who took plea deals after being accused of training at the al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2003, but last year, U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny reduced his sentence by a year.

The U.S. attorney's office in Buffalo said it asked for the sentence reduction because of Goba's extensive assistance with investigations into terrorism and terrorist recruiting efforts aimed at Americans.

Authorities said Goba's attorney, Marianne Mariano, who heads the federal public defenders office in Buffalo, will be traveling to Guantanamo Bay with Goba within the next few days. Mariano said she could not confirm or deny that information.

At least one more of the men convicted in the Lackawanna Six case has also been called to travel to Guantanamo Bay to appear as a witness in the al Bahlul trial, authorities said.

The proceedings are scheduled to be held next week.


There are no comments - be the first to comment