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By Kristin RobertsPosted 12:05 pm EDT
WASHINGTON, May 13, 2008 (Reuters) — The Pentagon said on Tuesday it dropped charges against a Saudi who U.S. officials say intended to be the "20th hijacker" on September 11 but sent five others to trial for allegedly planning the 2001 attacks.
A Pentagon appointee who oversees the U.S. war court at its Guantanamo Bay military prison did not say why she rejected the charges that prosecutors sought earlier this year against Mohammed al-Qahtani.
She dismissed the charges "without prejudice," a distinction that allows the U.S. government to try to bring charges against Qahtani again.
AS NEWSWEEK.MSNBC.COM REPORTED on Oct. 1, the FBI’s own lawyers decided in early September that the evidence against Zacarias Moussaoui wasn’t strong enough to justify a search warrant and the investigation stalled. But this week’s sweeping federal indictment alleges that Moussaoui was indeed part of the hijacking plot—he was supposed to be the 20th hijacker, according to the Feds—and makes him the primary defendant in the U.S. attempt to convict Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden before the court of world opinion.