An alleged al-Qaida member with expertise in biological weapons has been in Israeli custody in excess of three years, Reuters reported on Monday, citing recently published Israeli court documents.
Trained microbiologist Samer al-Baraq was arrested in 2010 when he attempted to enter Israel from Jordan. He was allegedly recruited in 2001 by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who today leads al-Qaida. The 39-year-old Kuwaiti-born Palestinian has yet to be charged with any crimes and remains in custody under Israel's policy of administrative detention. The policy permits the government to imprison suspected extremists absent a trial on the basis of information presented at a closed military tribunal.
Israeli Justice Ministry attorneys defended al-Baraq's continued detention on the grounds that he was allegedly scheming to carry out unspecified strikes on Israel, according to disclosed court records. The Israeli Supreme Court was slated on Monday to examine the legality of al-Baraq's continued imprisonment, which the detainee is protesting.
Al-Baraq's attorney, Mahmid Saleh, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio said: "If he is such a senior terrorist, then why hasn't he been prosecuted? There is no evidence against him."
The Justice Ministry is asserting that freeing al-Baraq would cross a "point of no return for the development of significant jihadi infrastructure in the region," the Associated Press reported.
Al-Qaida's interest in biological weapons is well documented and dates back to at least the late 1990s, according to Western issue experts. More recently, the international terrorist network's Yemeni branch in the last year has been attempting to stockpile the lethal poison ricin for use in possible large-scale attacks in the United States, some intelligence sources have said.