Somali Man To Face Terror Trial In New York

Jul 6, 2011
Originally published on July 6, 2011 6:59 am
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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.


NPR's justice correspondence, Carrie Johnson, is with us to talk about the case. Good morning, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Now, tell us about the suspect himself.

JOHNSON: He's currently residing in a top security facility in New York, and he's due again in court in September.

MONTAGNE: And those two groups you speak from, they're from respectively Somalia and Yemen, that's where the operate. But is picking him up from a ship at sea something new, and also holding him at sea for a couple of months?

JOHNSON: He was read his Miranda rights, which he waived, and he talked some more for about a week. While it's unusual to bring a terrorism suspect from overseas onto U.S. soil these days, U.S. officials say they brought more than two dozen Somali pirates into U.S. courts over the last couple of years. So there's some precedent for this.

MONTAGNE: Talk to us about what many members of Congress are opposed to trying terrorism suspects in American civilian courts.

JOHNSON: But administration sources involved in this case involving the Somali man say it was well under way long before Congress was considering any of these measures this year.

MONTAGNE: Well, given the fierce opposition from some in Congress, why did the administration decide to send this particular man to New York, which of course is, you know, a very sensitive place for a trial like this, but, you know, for a civilian trial?

JOHNSON: Some of those charges are not available in the military commission system. Others are available, but it's not entirely clear how they'll hold up on appeal. So folks in the administration say civilian courts were the safest best in terms of the law. There also seems to be some support for this within New York. The New York police commissioner, Ray Kelly, says his unit was involved in this case all along, and he supports this move.

MONTAGNE: Carrie, thanks very much.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Carrie Johnson in NPR's justice correspondent. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.