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Homeland Security

Republicans Criticize US Handling of Somali Terror Suspect

VOA News July 06, 2011

U.S. Republican lawmakers are criticizing the Obama administration's decision to bring a Somali terrorism suspect to New York for trial in a civilian court.

On Wednesday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame a "foreign enemy combatant" and said he should be treated as one. McConnell said Warsame should have been sent to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and should be facing trial before a military commission.

He questioned why Warsame has been afforded the protections given to U.S. citizens, such as the right to remain silent and have an attorney.

U.S. officials say Warsame, said to be in his mid-20s, was interrogated for nearly two months aboard a U.S. warship. He was questioned about his connections to the Somalia-based al-Shabab militant group and the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and is now in New York to face terrorism charges.

The administration did not disclose his capture until Tuesday, after he arrived in New York.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Republican Representative Buck McKeon of California said the transfer "directly contradicts congressional intent and the will of the American people."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that Warsame was detained "lawfully," and added that the Obama administration's first priority is to protect the American people.

The case provides insight into how the United States plans to handle foreign terror suspects after the closure of the CIA's secret prison network.

Warsame was indicted on nine charges, including providing material support to al-Shabab and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

He also was said to have brokered a weapons deal with the al-Qaida branch in Yemen on behalf of al-Shabab.

U.S. officials say Warsame provided useful information during his interrogation aboard a U.S. Navy ship.

After the interrogation was complete, officials say a separate group of interrogators came in and began to question Warsame again in a way that could be used in court. The interrogators informed Warsame of his rights under U.S. law to remain silent and to have an attorney, but officials say Warsame continued to talk.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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