The case against David Hicks

The US military painted David Hicks as a mercenary with terror groups in Albania, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he had dealings with Osama bin Laden.



If true, Hicks was a loyal follower of al-Qaeda who mixed with bin Laden and other accused terrorists, including British "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and American John Walker Lindh.

That was the evidence US prosecutors were planning to present when the Australian father-of-two faced trial at a military commission this year.

Hicks's shock plea of guilty to a charge of providing material support for terrorism means the accusations against him are now unlikely to be tested in any detail.

But last month, before a second charge of attempted murder against Hicks was dropped, US Defence Department documents laid out the allegations against the Australian.

Training

The US evidence against Hicks begins "in or about" May 1999, when it is alleged Hicks travelled to Albania and joined the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a group described as a "paramilitary organisation".

"Hicks completed basic military training at a KLA camp and engaged in hostile action before returning to Australia," the US alleges in the documents.

While in Australia, Hicks converted to Islam, according to the US case.

In or about November 1999, Hicks travelled to Pakistan and in early 2000 he became a member of Lashkar-e Toiba (LET), a "terrorist organisation" also known as the "Army of the Righteous", the US alleges.

After two months of training with LET at a camp in Pakistan, the US believes Hicks travelled with other LET associates to the Pakistani-Indian Kashmir border region "where he engaged in hostile action against Indian forces".

In early 2001 he is accused of travelling to Afghanistan, with the assistance of LET, to attend al-Qaeda training camps where he used the alias, Abu Muslim Austraili.

"That upon entering Afghanistan, Hicks travelled to Kandahar where he stayed at an al-Qaeda guest house and met Richard Reid," the US evidence states.

Hicks's alleged al-Qaeda training included an "eight-week basic training course" where he "trained in weapons familiarisation and firing, land mines, tactics, topography, field movements, basic explosives, and other areas".

Around April 2001, he is then accused of taking part in a seven-week "guerilla warfare and mountain tactics" al-Qaeda training course at al Farouq.

The course allegedly involved marksmanship, small teams tactics, ambush, camouflage, rendezvous techniques and methods to pass intelligence to al-Qaeda operatives.

It was while Hicks was at al Farouq that bin Laden visited the camp on several occasions, the US alleges.

"During one visit, Hicks expressed to bin Laden his concern over the lack of English al-Qaeda training material," the US documents state.

After Hicks completed the two al-Qaeda training courses, it is alleged the terror group's then military commander, Muhammad Atef, summoned Hicks and interviewed him about "his ability to travel around the world", including Israel, and his "willingness to go on a martyr mission".

Atef then allegedly recommended Hicks attend al-Qaeda's urban tactics training course at Tarak Farm, in Afghanistan, where a mock city was built and trainees were taught kidnapping techniques, assassination methods, rappelling and marksmanship with assault and sniper rifles.

In or about August 2001, Hicks, as part of his training, was sent to an apartment in Kabul where he conducted surveillance on the American and British embassies, which included covert photography and using disguises, it is alleged.

"During this training, Hicks personally collected intelligence on the American Embassy," the US documents state.

The combattant

Around September 9, 2001, the US believes Hicks left Afghanistan to visit a friend in Pakistan.

It is alleged Hicks watched the September 11 terrorist attacks on television in Pakistan and expressed approval of the attacks, then the next day returned to Afghanistan to rejoin al-Qaeda.

Hicks reported to Saif al Adel, then al-Qaeda's deputy military commander who was organising the terror group's forces at locations where it was expected US, Northern Alliance and Coalition troops would be, it is alleged.

"Hicks was given a choice of three different locations (city, mountain or airport) and he chose to join a group of al-Qaeda fighters near the Kandahar Airport," the US documents state.

Hicks was allegedly issued an AK-47 automatic rifle and "on his own" armed himself with six ammunition magazines, 300 rounds of ammunition and three grenades.

On October 7, 2001, when US and coalition forces began their bombing campaign in Afghanistan, Hicks was at the airport and about three days later he was reassigned to guard a tank outside the airport.

"Hicks implemented the tactics he had learned with al-Qaeda and trained some of the others positioned with him at Kandahar," the US case states.

"After apparent resistance to his training, and no enemy in sight at the time in Kandahar, Hicks decided to look for another opportunity to fight in Kabul."

It is alleged Hicks travelled to Kabul, met a friend from LET, and then both men went to "the front lines in Konduz".

Around November 9, 2001, he is accused of joining al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, including Lindh, and "engaged in combat against coalition forces".

"Hicks spent two hours on the front line before it collapsed and was forced to flee," the documents state.

"During the retreat, Hicks saw bullets flying and Northern Alliance tanks coming over the trenches.

"... Hicks spent two to three days making his way back to Konduz while being chased and fired upon by the Northern Alliance."

Capitulation

In Konduz, he met up with some Arab fighters who said they were going to fight "to the death", but the US alleges Hicks, instead, decided to use his Australian passport and flee to Pakistan.

The US alleges Hicks then hid in a safe house in Konduz and wrote letters to Arab fighters that said "not to come look for him because he was OK" and he then moved to another house where he stayed for three weeks.

In or about December 2001, after Northern Alliance troops took control of Konduz, the US alleges "Hicks took a taxi and fled towards Pakistan".

"However, Hicks was captured by the Northern Alliance in Baghlan, Afghanistan," the US case states.

Hicks was transferred to US custody and has spent the last five years at the American military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Source: AAP

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