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... supports Professor William Snyder's sections of National Security Law, Counterterrorism Law, and Prosecuting Terrorists at the Syracuse University College of Law.

Warsame’s Case Provides a “Template” for How U.S. Will Proceed Against Alleged Terrorists Captured Overseas

The manner in which to proceed with the prosecution of Ahmed Abdul Kadir Warsame, a top facilitator between al-Qaeda franchises who was captured while on a boat in the Gulf of Aden sailing between Somalia and Yemen, sparked controversy between politicians and intelligence officials, according to The Washington Post.

Generally, The Post reports that the Obama Administration wanted to prosecute Warsame in federal court; however, doing so would require FBI agents to Mirandize the detainee, which might have jeopardized the information officials could obtain from him. On the other hand, intelligence officials wanted to continue interrogating Warsame without informing him of his rights, notwithstanding the fact that doing so might have harmed future prosecutors’ ability to prosecute Warsame.

In the end, President Obama’s national security advisers opted to Mirandize Warsame and, perhaps surprisingly, the detainee responded by waiving his rights and continuing to answer intelligence officials’ questions.

But, The Post notes, this case has set a precedent for how the Obama Administration proceeds against terrorists captured overseas. The article describes the current process used for questioning and prosecuting terrorists that are taken into custody overseas, which was established using the Warsame case as a “template,” as follows:

  1. Alleged terrorists captured abroad are first detained and questioned under the laws of war by military, intelligence, and law enforcement interrogators. They are not read their Miranda rights at that point.
  2. Then, at “some point,” interrogation stops and a “clean break” is established when a new team consisting of only FBI agents replaces the interrogation officials. At this point, the detainee is read his or her rights.
  3. Lastly, the person believed to be involved in terrorist activities is moved to a federal district for trial, usually in New York City.

This process seemingly illustrates the Obama Administration’s preference for civilian prosecution of alleged terrorists, although there is still considerable controversy over the issue.


You can read the full Washington Post article here.


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