Newsweek March 7 issue – The confession came quickly, and it sounded
damning. After a few days of allegedly rough interrogation, Ahmed Omar Abu
Ali-a soft-spoken high-school valedictorian from the Washington, D.C.,
suburbs-either cracked or simply told his questioners what they wanted to
hear. While studying in the holy city of Medina, Saudi Arabia, Abu Ali
said, he had met with a Qaeda operative and offered to set up a sleeper
cell in the United States to organize terror attacks. He wanted to be like
September 11 ringleader Muhammad Atta, Abu Ali added in his confession. The
young Muslim American even talked about an assassination plot. The
purported target: President George W. Bush. Abu Ali allegedly suggested
that Bush could either be shot on the street or blown up in a car-bomb attack.

An open-and-shut case, you might think. The problem with this Perry Mason
moment, however, is that it occurred in a Saudi Arabian prison, where no
U.S. officials were present and where, according to human-rights groups,
suspects are often physically abused. One of Abu Ali’s lawyers, Edward
MacMahon, said after the suspect’s first court hearing last week that he
personally saw “multiple scars” all over Abu Ali’s back, looking “exactly
like somebody who has been whipped.” Prosecutors deny this, but even U.S.
law-enforcement officials admit there is a good chance Abu Ali could
eventually walk out of prison a free man. The indictment of Abu Ali shows
how the administration’s aggressive pursuit of the global war on terror is
increasingly getting tangled up in legal constraints at home”¦

Even if the case ultimately collapses, an aggressive prosecution might be
able to delay for years the day when Abu Ali will be able to “walk free,”
the official explained


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