Law & Legal Expert Witness Opines On Legal Status of Osama bin Laden’s Captured Driver – Part 2

UMass Dartmouth Professor Brian Glyn Williams was called as a law and legal expert witness in the judicial proceedings to determine the legal status of Osama bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan. Hamdan is being held as an “alien unlawful enemy combatant,” which denies him Geneva Convention rights as prisoner of war. Glyn’s role as an expert witness was to shed light on the military command structure of the Taliban and Al Qaida armies. also reports:

The bottom line for him (Williams) is that the Taliban and Al Qaida forces, far from being a loose collection of terrorists, was and is a trained fighting force with old but serviceable weapons, with insignias, uniforms and a command structure. In short, the kinds of things that would qualify it as an army for the purposes of the Geneva Conventions. It was not just conjecture on his part; Dr. Williams has traveled repeatedly to Afghanistan and other parts of the region, and has interviewed captured Al Qaida and Taliban fighters to learn about their command structure, among other things.

Mr. Hamdan, in his view, was far from full-fledged Al Qaida but rather a low-level recruit from Yemen without the education or wealthy background to rise into the elite ranks of those such as Osama bin Laden who masterminded the 911 attacks. If anything, he was part of the army that fought off the Soviets in Afghanistan and has now turned to fighting the U.S. and its allies.

Beyond that, said Dr. Williams, the fighters on the ground in Afghanistan are distinct from those elite “sleeper cells” that carried out the attacks in 2001, what Dr. Williams calls “white-collar terrorists.”

Excerpted from UMD professor testifies as expert witness at trial of bin Laden’s driver, Steve Urbon, Standard-Times senior correspondent, December 30, 2007.