The first detainee from Guanatamo Bay to be tried in U.S. civilian court has been acquitted on all but one of the more than 280 charges he faced for his alleged role in the coordinated terror bombings of two U.S. embassies overseas.
A jury convicted Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani Wednesday on just one count of conspiracy for the 1998 al Qaeda car bomb attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania -- attacks that killed 224. Prosecutors had alleged that Ghailani helped an al-Qaeda cell purchase a truck and components for explosives used in the suicide attack.
"This is Ahmed Ghailani. This is Al Qaeda. This is a terrorist. This is a killer," Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Chernoff said in closing arguments.
On Wednesday, Ghailani was acquitted on all 276 murder and attempted murder accounts, as well as five other conspiracy charges.
After deliberating for five days, the jury returned with a guilty verdict on just one conspiracy count, a minor charge for "conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property with explosives." According Reuters, this conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison.
The relatively light sentence presents a potentially large setback for President Barack Obama and his administration who were vocal proponents for civilian trials instead of military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees. Prior to his trial, Ghailani had spent five years at Guantanamo bay after being captured in Pakistan in 2004 and held by the CIA.