Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi to be prosecuted by U.S. for attacks on Canadians

The Pentagon will prosecute a Guantanamo Bay detainee for war crimes, including allegations he ordered attacks in 2003 and 2004 that killed Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

Aaccused in multiple attacks, including 2 in Afghanistan that killed Canadian soldiers

A U.S. flag flies above a detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Detainee Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi is alleged to be behind attacks in Afghanistan that killed Canadian soldiers. (Mandel Ngan/Reuters)

The Pentagon will prosecute a Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee for war crimes including allegations he ordered attacks in 2003 and 2004 that killed Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

Abdal-Hadi al-Iraqi, who is accused of being a key member of al-Qaeda, allegedly committed war crimes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey "and elsewhere" between 1996 and 2006, according to a legal document.

Allegations in a charge sheet released Tuesday by the U.S. Office of Military Commissions include that al-Hadi "directed, organized, funded, supplied and oversaw" al-Qaeda's operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan from March 2002 to "in or about 2004."

On Oct. 2, 2003, al-Hadi funded a roadside explosive device that killed two Canadian military members and injured another, the document alleges.

That was the day Sgt. Robert Alan Short, 42, of Fredericton and Cpl. Robbie Christopher Beerenfenger, 29, of Ottawa were killed when their jeep hit an explosive device while on a routine patrol in Kabul. They were the first Canadians killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan.

Attack killed Newfoundlander

The charge sheet also alleges al-Hadi "provided a suicide bomber and funding to a co-conspirator to execute two simultaneous suicide attacks on coalition forces at or near Kabul, Afghanistan," around Jan. 27, 2004, killing a member of the Canadian military, injuring three Canadian military members and injuring civilians. Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy, 26, from Conception Harbour, N.L., was killed in an attack on that date.
Cpl. Jamie Murphy, from Conception Harbour, N.L., was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2004. (Submitted photo)

Other attacks contained in the 12 pages of allegations against al-Hadi, included the following that occurred in Afghanistan:

  • On a bus carrying members of the German military in June 2003.
  • On a military medical helicopter in September 2003.
  • On a convoy of British and Estonian military members in January 2004.
  • On a convoy of U.S. military members in March 2004.​

The specific charges include denying quarter, which involves refusing to allow the enemy to surrender, and treachery, defined under international law as pretending to be a civilian to carry out attacks.

Al-Hadi is also charged with attacking protected property, attempted treachery and conspiracy.

The charges carry a maximum of life in prison except attacking protected property, which carries a 20-year maximum. Al-Hadi is to be arraigned within 30 days under military rules.

The U.S. Defence Department announced in early 2007 that al-Hadi had been arrested and that he was being moved to the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay. He had reportedly been arrested in late 2006.

The U.S. described al-Hadi as "one of al-Qaeda's highest-ranking and experienced senior operatives at the time of his detention."

According to information provided by the U.S. Defence Department, al-Hadi was born in Mosul, Iraq, in 1961.

A military lawyer appointed to represent him did not respond to a request for comment.

There are two other war crimes cases pending at Guantanamo, the case against five prisoners charged in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and for another prisoner accused of orchestrating the 2000 attack against USS Cole. Both are in the pretrial stage. The U.S. holds 149 prisoners at the U.S. base in Cuba.