WASHINGTON, July 7 (Xinhua) -- A Sudanese man accused of being al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden's driver on Wednesday pleaded guilty in a military commission at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to charges that he assisted bin Laden and others in plotting the attacks on the United States and escaping into the mountains of eastern Afghanistan when U.S. forces closed in.
In the first case prosecuted under the Obama administration at Guantanamo, 50-year-old Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi pleaded guilty to two charges for his support to al-Qaida and for conspiring to commit terrorism from August 1996 until his capture in December 2001. He could face life in prison.
The plea provided a window into the movements of al-Qaida leading up to the 9/11 attacks. Al Qosi, who served as a bodyguard and driver for bin Laden from 1996 to 2001, lived with bin Laden and other al-Qaida members at a compound near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, from 1996 to 1998 before he and the rest of the group relocated to Kandahar. He also fought in support of al-Qaida as part of a mortar crew.
About two weeks before 9/11, al Qosi and others followed bin Laden's orders to evacuate the Kandahar compound. Armed with AK-47 assault rifles, al Qosi and others traveled in a convoy with bin Laden and camped between Kabul, Khost and Jalalabad. From October through December of 2001, al Qosi and others traveled with bin Laden to the mountainous Tora Bora area along the Afghanistan- Pakistan border.
In the first two weeks of December 2001, al Qosi and others traveled away from bin Laden in Tora Bora, where they came under fire by U.S. forces and were subsequently captured. He has been held ever since.
Al Qosi will be sentenced by 12 military officers as part of the commission on Aug. 9. He will remain at Guantanamo Bay for the time being, and it is not yet known where he will serve out his sentence.
"That probably will be determined at the highest levels of government," said Navy Capt. David C. Iglesias, an official spokesman in the case and a commission prosecutor for two years.
Obama has promised to close the infamous Guantanamo prison facility, but has so far failed to deliver. Al Qosi is only the fourth person prosecuted under the military commissions. He is the second to plead guilty, and two others were convicted in trials.