International Law

En Banc D.C. Circuit Opinion in Al-Bahlul

By Wells Bennett
Monday, July 14, 2014, 10:29 AM

I am thumbing through the long-awaited and seemingly split ruling, which opens as follows:

Opinion for the court filed by Circuit Judge HENDERSON. Concurring opinion filed by Circuit Judge HENDERSON. Opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting filed by Circuit Judge ROGERS. Opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part filed by Circuit Judge BROWN. Opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part filed by Circuit Judge KAVANAUGH. KAREN LECRAFT HENDERSON, Circuit Judge: Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al Bahlul (Bahlul) served as a personal assistant to Osama bin Laden, produced propaganda videos for al Qaeda and assisted with preparations for the attacks of September 11, 2001 that killed thousands of Americans.  Three months after 9/11, Bahlul was captured in Pakistan and transferred to the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Military prosecutors charged him with three crimes: conspiracy to commit war crimes, providing material support for terrorism and solicitation of others to commit war crimes. A military commission convicted him of all three crimes and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The United States Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR) affirmed his conviction and sentence. Bahlul appeals. For the reasons that follow, we reject Bahlul’s ex post facto challenge to his conspiracy conviction and remand that conviction to the original panel of this Court for it to dispose of several remaining issues. In addition, we vacate his material support and solicitation convictions.