Image: Ali Al-Marri
International Committee of the Red Cross via AP  /  AP
Ali al-Marri, in January at the Naval Brig in Charleston, S.C., is accused of meeting with Osama bin Laden and volunteering for a suicide mission or whatever help al-Qaida wanted.
updated 3/18/2009 2:34:39 PM ET 2009-03-18T18:34:39

An alleged al-Qaida sleeper agent held for nearly six years without being charged must remain behind bars as the criminal case against him continues, a judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Carr turned down Ali al-Marri's bid to be released on bond, despite an offer by his lawyer's wife to put up collateral to guarantee al-Marri wouldn't flee before his trial in Illinois on terror charges.

Prosecutors said Qatar-born al-Marri is still a danger to the public and contend he was greatly influenced by Islamic radicals before he arrived in the U.S. the day before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"He came to the U.S. under command and control of al-Qaida," said prosecutor Michael Mullaney.

Defense lawyer Andy Savage unsuccessfully argued his client could stay at an undisclosed secure location, with bodyguards, until his trial. Mullaney countered that such an arrangement was akin to keeping al-Marri in prison.

Savage's wife, Cheryl, said she would have offered collateral because she has met with al-Marri numerous times and trusts him.

President Barack Obama in February ordered al-Marri surrendered to civilian authorities after he was indicted in Peoria, Illinois, on federal charges of providing material support to terror and conspiracy. He had been held in a nearby Navy brig as an enemy combatant.

Al-Marri was scheduled to be arraigned in Illinois on Monday.

Al-Marri was studying at Bradley University in Peoria when he was arrested in late 2001 as part of the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks. He was initially indicted on fraud charges, which were dropped in 2003 when President George W. Bush declared him an enemy combatant.

The government has said al-Marri met with Osama bin Laden and volunteered for a suicide mission or whatever help al-Qaida wanted.

Al-Qaida leaders wanted al-Marri, a computer specialist, to wreak havoc on the U.S. banking system and to serve as a liaison for other al-Qaida operatives, according to a court document filed by Jeffrey Rapp, a senior member of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the government has held two U.S. citizens — Louisiana native Yaser Hamdi was the other — and one legal resident, al-Marri, as enemy combatants. Hamdi was released in 2004 after the government said he no longer posed a threat to the United States and no longer had any intelligence value.

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