Al-Qaida operative gets 34 months in Gitmo trial

A Guantanamo Bay prisoner who helped run an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan will serve less than three years in prison under a plea deal that requires him to testify against other suspected terrorists, the U.S. military said Friday.

A war crimes court at the U.S. base in Cuba formally sentenced Noor Uthman Muhammed to 14 years in confinement but the Pentagon will suspend all but 34 months of the sentence under the pretrial agreement, said Army Lt. Col. Tanya Bradsher, a military spokeswoman.

Noor, as the prisoner is known, pleaded guilty Tuesday to providing material support to al-Qaida and conspiracy as part of a plea deal that spared him the possibility of a life sentence if convicted at trial.

He has already been held nearly nine years at Guantanamo and does not get credit for time already served in custody.

The Sudanese prisoner admitted working at the Khaldan terrorist training camp in Afghanistan beginning in 1994 and providing weapons instruction there and helping to run it. The terrorists who have trained there included Ahmed Ressam, who was convicted in a plot to bomb buildings in the U.S. during millennium celebrations, and convicted Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, according to a stipulation that Noor signed as part of his plea deal.

He also admitted that he helped arrange terrorism training for others with Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian and alleged facilitator for al-Qaida who was subjected to harsh interrogation in a special anti-terror program authorized by former U.S. President George W. Bush. Zubaydah is held at Guantamamo and has not yet been tried for any alleged crimes.

Noor is the sixth prisoner convicted at the war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo. Four of those convictions have been plea bargains.

The U.S. holds about 170 men at Guantanamo and military prosecutors have said several dozen could be charged in the war crimes tribunals.