The man who drove Osama bin Laden when he evacuated his compound just before 9/11 was the subject of a hearing yesterday on whether he can be tried as an unlawful enemy combatant. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who was paid $200 a month as a driver and bodyguard for bin Laden, later heard the al Qaeda leader say he had expected up to 1,500 deaths in the attacks and was pleased that there were more, according to an FBI agent who interviewed him at Gitmo.
Hamdan insists he was merely a driver and bodyguard, and not a member of Al Qaeda or a terrorist; a judge dismissed charges against him in a previous trial. Hamdan was captured in 2001 driving a car carrying two rockets without their launching mechanisms. He was not armed and did not resist arrest, unlike three other men apprehended in an accompanying van, said an FBI witness.