A Pentagon legal official has approved war crimes charges for a Maryland-raised detainee at Guantanamo who is accused of joining al-Qaida and taking part in a series of post-Sept. 11 terror plots.
Majid Khan, 31, a Pakistan citizen, faces up to life in prison if convicted of charges that include murder, attempted murder and providing material support for terrorism.
The Pentagon's Convening Authority approved the charges on Wednesday, two days after they were filed by military prosecutors, a process that has taken months of review in the past.
That approval means the prisoner must be arraigned within 30 days before a military judge at the U.S. base in Cuba. The date of the arraignment has not yet been announced.
Khan lived as a child in the suburbs of Baltimore, graduating from high school in 1999 and working at gas stations in the area owned by his family.
Not a 'jokester'According to Janis Sanford, a teacher at Khan's high school Owings Mills, he was studious and interested in computers in his youth.
"It doesn't make any sense to me ... I can't imagine it. He wasn't one of these kinds of fool-around kids. He just seemed serious ... He wasn't a light-hearted jokester," she told The Washington Post in 2006.
Khan's father told the Post then that his son was not a terrorist, saying "I don't accept this." However, he also said his son "has been brainwashed."
Prosecutors say he joined al-Qaida on a trip to his homeland, working directly with senior members of the terrorist organization, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The military has accused Khan of plotting with Mohammed to blow up underground fuel tanks in the U.S. and scheming to assassinate then President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan.
The charges allege that Khan strapped on an explosives vest and waited in a mosque in Karachi, Pakistan, where he planned to blow up himself and Musharraf in a 2002 assassination plot that failed when Musharraf did not show up.
Khan also allegedly delivered $50,000 to help pay for the al-Qaida bombing of a J.W. Marriott hotel in Indonesia in August 2003, an attack that killed 11 people and wounded 81.
He was captured in March 2003 and held in a clandestine CIA prison, where his lawyers say he was tortured.
Khan was transferred in September 2006 to Guantanamo, where he has been held in a special prison for captives considered "high value."
He was with two of his lawyers, Wells Dixon and Katya Jestin, when he was served with the charges at Guantanamo Monday.
"We are reviewing the charges, and will represent Majid throughout this process," Dixon and Jestin said in a statement. "Majid is doing well considering these challenging circumstances."