A Russian was brought before a U.S. court Tuesday to face terrorism-related charges after being held for years in Afghanistan as a suspected foreign fighter.
Irek Ilgiz Hamidullin, who was flown out of Afghanistan on Monday, was the first foreign detainee to be brought from there to the United States for trial.
U.S. authorities unsealed an indictment charging Hamidullin with 12 counts of terrorism-related offenses, including providing material support to terrorists, attempting to destroy a U.S. forces aircraft and attempted murder of a U.S. national.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein praised the federal court indictment as the "right decision" compared to the U.S.’s indefinite military detentions at the Guantanamo prison.
“Federal criminal courts have successfully prosecuted more than 500 terrorism-related cases since 9/11, with a conviction rate near 90 percent,” the senator said in a statement.
Hamidullin allegedly led an insurgent attack in 2009 on U.S. forces in the mountainous Khost province of Afghanistan.
Hamidullin, who is around 55, received training as an officer and tank commander in the Russian military during the early 80s, the U.S. government said.
He became a follower of Taliban leader Mullah Omar in 2001 and received instructions for his attack from the feared Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, the indictment said.
Hamidullin directed an attack against an Afghan police outpost and attacked U.S. and Afghan forces himself, according to the indictment. He was captured after the attack in 2009 and held for five years before his transfer from Parwan prison near Bagram, Afghanistan.
He was one of 13 foreigners held by U.S. authorities in Afghanistan on suspicion of fighting with Taliban insurgents.
The American combat mission in Afghanistan is due to wrap up this year, and Washington is anxious to transfer the remaining foreign detainees at Parwan by the end of December.
So far, however, only Hamidullin has been transferred to the United States.
Other detainees held at the prison have been quietly repatriated to other countries.
Hamidullin is scheduled to be arraigned and enter a plea on Friday in federal court in the U.S. state of Virginia.
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