Former al-Qaida Fighter Pleads Guilty to Murder

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2010 - A former al-Qaida fighter in Afghanistan has pleaded guilty to multiple charges for his role in a battle with coalition troops in Afghanistan in 2002, military officials announced.

Omar Khadr pleaded guilty yesterday in a military commission at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to murder, attempted murder, providing material support to terrorism, conspiracy, and spying in violation of the laws of war. A hearing to determine his sentence begins today.

Khadr, represented by two U.S. military attorneys at no cost to him, admitted in open court to throwing a grenade on July 27, 2002, that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer following a four-hour firefight between al-Qaida and U.S. forces. Khadr also admitted that in the months prior to the firefight, he converted land mines to improvised explosive devices and helped plant ten of them with the intent of killing U.S. forces.

Khadr agreed to waive his right to trial and plead guilty in exchange for a limitation on his sentence. Under the Military Commissions Act of 2009, a panel of military officers, or "members" of the commission, will determine the sentence. The commission's convening authority may accept the sentence or reduce it.

The commission's presiding military judge, Army Col. Patrick Parrish, questioned Khadr as to whether he understood the charges against him, his rights, and if his plea was voluntary. Parrish said he was satisfied that Khadr understood and that his plea was legitimate.

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