Terror Suspect Loses Bid for Immunity as POW

     RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – The alleged commander of a Taliban-affiliated insurgent group will face terrorism charges for his participation in a 2009 attack on an Afghani border camp, a federal judge ruled.
     U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson’s refusal to grant Irek Ilgiz Hamidullin immunity as a prisoner of war paves the way for the first prosecution of a Taliban fighter in United States.
     Hamidullin, a former tank officer in the Russian military, is accused of leading three insurgent groups armed with an arsenal of assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns and homemade explosives, in the 2009 attack on Camp Leyza, an Afghani Border Police station in the Eastern Khost Province of Afghanistan.
     Following the attack, U.S. military officers were met with machine gun fire during a damage assessment of the camp. Hamidullin was apprehended a short time later, court documents say.
     Hamidullin was indicted on Oct. 8, 2014, and pleaded not guilty to all 15 counts with which he’d been charged, including providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to murder U.S. military personnel, destroying U.S. military property, and utilizing weapons of mass destruction.
     Hamidullin claims he did not fire a single bullet during the attack, and that the U.S. intentionally lost or destroyed a Kalashnikov-style assault weapon which would have exculpated him from some charges.
     “This case explores the outer perimeter of the concept of enemy combatants and its width in the present conflict,” Judge Hudson wrote in his ruling Tuesday. “Central to the analysis is the question of what constitutes an armed force on the battlefield of Afghanistan.”
     In testimony given last month, former Pentagon intelligence analyst Barclay Adams detailed the gruesome operations of the Haggani Network – hanging or beheading Afghan soldiers, police and contractors upon capture, and cutting off the ink-stained fingers of civilians who visibly submitted to fingerprinting as is required to vote in national elections.
     “The Haqqani Network is more brutal than the Taliban, as they are known to indiscriminately kill civilians and kidnap journalists and other individuals, who are typically bartered for ransom,” Hudson wrote. “Children with mental disabilities are frequently used for suicide bombings which often target local civilian populations.”
     The Haggani Network, which has held a place in the Taliban chain of command for nearly 20 years, forbids their militia from wearing recognizable marks or insignia, instead urging them to blend in with civilians, court documents allege.
     Because Haggani Network insurgents represent the Taliban, a faction which has not been officially recognized by any country since 2001, Hamidullin’s claim to combatant immunity falls short of the requirements for prisoner of war status as defined by the Geneva Convention, Hudson said.
     “Absent proof that the defendant was operating ‘under national military authorities, occurring during a state of war and in accordance with the principles of civilized warfare,’ his purported authority affords him no protection under the common law,” the judge wrote. “The defendant’s band of insurgents was not a regular military force but simply a band of ideologically-driven individuals acting in association with the Taliban.”
     In separate rulings released Tuesday, Hudson called Hamidullin’s request to reveal the identities of U.S. officials victimized by the attack “an attempt to unearth non-essential evidentiary detail.”
     The judge also declined to suppress an FBI interview which Hamidullin says continued in violation of his Miranda rights after he declined to speak when he was shown portions of an undated “pre-attack video” unless FBI agents met Hamidullin’s personal demands related his family.
     Hamidullin does not appear in the video dismissed as hearsay evidence, in which three unidentified individuals discuss a plan to attack Camp Leyza.
     “The Government acknowledges that several different attacks occurred at Camp Leyza, and there is little external evidence to connect the individuals in this specific pre-attack briefing with the defendant,” Hudson wrote. “Here, the defendant’s refusal to answer questions was inextricably intertwined with his five demands – a cudgel to pressure the agents to fulfill his requests unrelated to counsel or questioning.”
     Hamidullin’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Courthouse News.

%d bloggers like this: