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Federal Judge Denies Bail For Al-Marri

This Jan. 16, 2009 photo released by the International Committee of the Red Cross via his lawyer Andy Savage, shows Ali Al-Marri at the Charleston Naval Brig in Charleston, S.C.
AP Photo/ICRC
A federal magistrate in South Carolina has ruled an alleged al Qaeda sleeper agent must stay behind bars as the criminal case against the man continues.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Carr on Wednesday turned down a bid by Ali al-Marri to be released on bond.

The Qatar native's lawyer Andy Savage argued his client could stay at a secure location until his trial in Illinois. Savage's wife offered to put up whatever collateral was needed.

Federal prosecutors said al-Marri is still dangerous.

Al-Marri was held in a Navy brig near Charleston as an enemy combatant without charge for more than five years. Last month, President Barack Obama ordered al-Marri surrendered to civil authorities after he was indicted on charges of supporting terrorism and conspiracy.

Al-Marri is charged with providing material support to terror and conspiracy. Last week, he answered affirmatively when a federal magistrate asked the 43-year-old Qatar native whether he understood the counts against him.

"Al-Marri faces a very scaled down terror cast," says CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen. "He's charged with supporting al Qaeda and conspiring to support al Qaeda, two federal charges that have been used with great success by prosecutors both before and after the terror attacks of 9/11."

Al-Marri was studying at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., when he was arrested in late 2001 as part of the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks. He was initially indicted on fraud charges, which were dropped in 2003 when President George W. Bush declared him an enemy combatant, a term the Obama administration has recently scrapped for terror suspects in its court filings.

The government has said al-Marri met with Osama bin Laden and volunteered for a suicide mission or whatever help al Qaeda wanted. He arrived in the U.S. the day before terrorists struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Al Qaeda leaders wanted al-Marri, a computer specialist, to wreak havoc on the U.S. banking system and to serve as a liaison for other al Qaeda operatives, according to a court document filed by Jeffrey Rapp, a senior member of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The U.S. Supreme Court forced President Obama to act in al-Marri's case when it decided in December - after the election, but before the transfer of power - to hear his challenge to being held as an enemy combatant. Several justices had indicated as early as 2006, in the detention case of U.S. citizen and former Chicago gang member Jose Padilla, that they were troubled by the Bush policy of holding people without charges on U.S. soil.

Earlier this month, the court granted the Obama administration's request to dismiss al-Marri's challenge, just like it declined to hear Padilla's case.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the government has held two U.S. citizens - Louisiana native Yaser Hamdi was the other - and one legal resident, al-Marri, as enemy combatants. Hamdi was released in 2004 after the government said he no longer posed a threat to the United States and no longer had any intelligence value.