With the Guantánamo Bay detention center set to shut its gates in seven months, U.S. authorities moved the first of its detainees to New York this morning. Ahmed Ghailani, an alleged al Qaeda conspirator, will face trial for the 1998 U.S. embassies bombings that killed more than 224 people, including 12 Americans, in Kenya and Tanzania.
It's the latest test for the Obama administration, whose controversial decision to close the Guantánamo prison has sparked claims by Republican critics that doing so would endanger American lives.
"The Justice Department has a long history of securely detaining and successfully prosecuting terror suspects through the criminal justice system, and we will bring that experience to bear in seeking justice in this case," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a news release today.
While Republicans are pushing to keep the detention center open, Democrats say they want to see the president's plan for closing the base before allocating funds to finance it.
Last month, President Barack Obama said that blocking Ghailani from coming to U.S. soil "would prevent his trial and conviction. And after over a decade, it is time to finally see that justice is served, and that is what we intend to do."
Ghailani, a Tanzanian national, faces 286 charges, which include conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda to kill Americans. He also faces separate charges of murder for each death from the bombings.
Four other men have been tried in the New York courthouse and sentenced to life in prison for their roles in the embassy attacks. Ghailani, who is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, will appear in a federal court in Manhattan later today.