Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was born on January 5, 1965 in Saudi Arabia. Prior to his affiliation with al Qaeda, al-Nashiri fought alongside Tajik and Chechen insurgencies. While in Afghanistan in 1996, al-Nashiri met with Osama bin Laden, who encouraged him to join the jihad. During this meeting, al-Nashiri refused to join al Qaeda because he disagreed with bin Laden’s requirement of bayat, an oath of allegiance to both jihad and to bin Laden’s leadership. After traveling to Yemen, he returned to Afghanistan in 1997 to fight with the Taliban against the Afghan Northern Alliance.
Then, in 1998, al-Nashiri allegedly joined al Qaeda, working directly under bin Laden. This is also allegedly when plans to attack a U.S. ship were established. The first attempt to bring this attack to fruition was in 2000, but the boat al-Nashiri used started to sink and the attack was abandoned.
On October 12, 2000, the al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole, under al-Nashiri’s guidance, left 17 dead and 39 wounded. After this attack, it is believed that al-Nashiri rose to chief of operations for al Qaeda. In 2002, al-Nashiri also allegedly organized the bombing of French oil tanker MV Limburg near the Gulf of Aden. Not only did the attack result in a major oil spill, but it also left one dead and 12 injured.
In November 2002, al-Nashiri was arrested in the United Arab Emirates. He was then held in undisclosed locations and subjected to abuse and torture, and was transferred to Guantanamo as a “high-value detainee” on September 6, 2006.
In 2007 at his Combatant Status Review hearing, it was determined that high-value detainees, regardless of their status as illegal enemy combatants, had been cleared to face trial by military commission.
Charges were filed against al-Nashiri on June 30, 2008. However, in February 2009, those charges were withdrawn as a result of the stay President Obama had placed on military commissions. After the Military Commissions Act of 2009, charges were re-filed against al-Nashiri on September 28, 2011. These charges include the following:
- Using Treachery or Perfidy
- Murder in violation of the law of war
- Attempted murder in violation of the law of war
- Intentionally causing serious bodily injury
- Attacking civilians
- Attacking civilian objects
- Hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft
Al-Nashiri faces the death penalty.
Department of Defense announced charges referred against detainee al-Nashiri (September 28, 2011)
Al-Nashiri Charge Sheet – PDF