Friday, September 9, 2011

First public appearance for accused Somali militant

NEW YORK, Sept 8 (Reuters) - A Somali man accused of assisting al Qaeda and a Somali militant group appeared in Manhattan federal court on Thursday. It was his first public appearance in a U.S. court since he was secretly arraigned in July.
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was captured in waters between Yemen and Somalia in April and brought to New York in July to face charges in Manhattan federal court.
His previous court appearance, where he entered a plea of not guilty, was sealed.
Warsame, said to be in his mid-20s, was indicted on nine charges, including providing material support from at least 2007 to April 2011 to Somali militants al Shabaab and to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), both groups designated by Washington as terrorist organizations.
At his Thursday appearance before U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon, Warsame wore a blue prison smock over a bright orange shirt. He spoke only once to confirm to the judge that he spoke and understood English.
His lawyers and federal prosecutors agreed to return to court on Nov. 2 to establish a schedule for the case going forward.
Warsame's case has revived the argument between U.S. President Barack Obama's administration and critics who oppose its plan to prosecute Warsame in civilian court, where suspects are afforded a full suite of constitutional protections.
Republicans and some Democrats want Obama to prosecute terrorism suspects in military courts and to treat them as enemy combatants as was the case for some suspects during the Bush administration.