Bin Laden Media Guru Convicted of War Crimes

Bahlul doesn't contest charges
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2008 11:41 AM CST
In this May 7, 2008, file courtroom sketch, detainee Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, far left, holds up a handwritten sign that says "boycott" in during a court proceeding in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The man who produced recruitment videos for Osama bin Laden was convicted of war crimes today after a 4-day military trial the defendant adamantly boycotted, the Miami Herald reports. Ali Hamza al Bahlul forbade his lawyer from offering evidence or questioning witnesses because he rejected the military’s authority to judge him. The nine-member jury deliberated for less than 4 hours before declaring him guilty on all three counts: conspiracy, providing material support for terror, and solicitation to murder.

The jury did, however, strike a section of the indictment charging that Bahlul, bin Laden's media secretary, had worn “an explosive belt” to protect bin Laden, because no one testified about it. Instead, the charges revolved solely around a 2-hour video mixing bin Laden speeches with stock news footage from the USS Cole attack that the prosecution said incited suicide bombers. Bahlul faces up to life imprisonment.