A federal appeals court will reconsider its ruling that a legal U.S. resident being held as a suspected enemy combatant should be charged or released from military custody.
A three-judge panel of the court ruled 2-1 in June that the Military Commissions Act, passed in 2006 to establish military trials, doesn’t strip Ali al-Marri of his constitutional right to challenge his accusers in court.
The Bush administration requested a rehearing by the full court, arguing that national security will be jeopardized if the administration is not allowed to indefinitely hold suspected terrorists as enemy combatants inside the U.S.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the rehearing in a brief order Wednesday. Arguments will be held the week of Oct. 31, and the court’s decision likely will come a few weeks later.
Al-Marri’s attorney, Jonathan Hafetz, said he was disappointed by the decision.
“We believe the panel decision correctly decided and affirmed a basic American principle,” Hafetz said Thursday. “We believe the panel’s holding will ultimately be vindicated.”
Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin said: “We’re pleased the full court of appeals will hear the case and we look forward to presenting our arguments.”
Al-Marri has been held in solitary confinement in the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., since June 2003. The Qatar native was arrested in December 2001 at his home in Peoria, Ill., where he moved with his wife and five children a day before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to study for a master’s degree at Bradley University.
The government says federal agents found evidence that al-Marri, who was charged with credit card fraud, had links to al-Qaida terrorists and was a national security threat. Authorities shifted al-Marri’s case from the criminal system and moved him to indefinite military detention.