Vive la difference!
Whatever else you can say about US government policy on the legal status of American al Qaedaites it certainly doesn't lack for variety.
Abdul Hamid, aka John Walker Lindh. A white US citizen and run of the mill goofball from the Bay Area. Walker converted to Islam, travelled to Yemen, then Pakistan, then Afghanistan. He was captured at Mazar-e-Sharif and is now on trial on federal charges in Virginia.
Abdullah Al Muhajir, aka Jose Padilla. A Hispanic US citizen, one-time gangbanger, and an undeniable if utterly hapless al Qaeda terrorist. Padilla was arrested at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on suspicion of planning to steal dirty bomb materials, figure out how to construct a dirty bomb, and then make a dirty bomb. Padilla is currently being held incommunicado in a military brig in South Carolina in indefinite detention as an "enemy combatant." He cannot meet with a lawyer and there are no plans to charge him with a crime.
Yasir Hamdi, aka Yasir Hamdi. A Saudi who is also --- by accident of US citizenship laws and the constitution -- a US citizen. Hamdi was born of Saudi parents and was raised in Saudi Arabia. But he was born and lived for a year or two in Louisiana. Hamdi was captured in Afghanistan, taken to Guantanamo Bay and then evacuated to a Navy prison facility in Norfolk, Virginia. Hamdi is also an "enemy combatant" but courts are currently hashing out whether he might also get to have his own lawyer.
In the interests of looking ahead, the TPM editorial staff has done some further research and has assembled a list of new American al Qaedaites whose identities and exploits are to be announced in coming months ...
Lupo Montez, aka Abdullah bin Mohammad. US citizen of Saudi extraction, underwent conversion to Catholicism, took an Hispanic name, and became a farm worker in Napa Valley, California. Mohammad was visiting elder brother Marwan in Kandahar Afghanistan when captured by elements of the 82nd Airborne. Mohammad is currently in the custody of the INS in Douglas, Arizona and has been allowed to meet with a local immigration attorney three times.
Nazir bin Abu Bakr, aka Freddy Baker. African-American US citizen who converted to Islam while attending Duke University in the late 1990s. Baker was captured at Mazar-e-Sharif in November 2001. At Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he denied being a US citizen, instead insisting that he was from Kenya. After being recognized by former Duke classmate First Lieutenant Edward "Lank" Griffin and determined to be an American, Baker was transferred to a holding cell at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He is being held there incommunicado, without legal counsel, as an "enemy combatant." Baker has also been convicted in absentia by a military tribunal for charges arising from the disappearance of twenty-seven books on Islam and one copy of Basil Davidson's The Lost Cities of Africa from Perkins Library at Duke University.
Abu Jafar bin Yahya, aka Philippe Le Brun. US citizen who converted to Islam and travelled to Kandahar Afghanistan to study at leading Taliban-affiliated Madrassa. Le Brun was abandoned by departing Taliban because of accusations that he had ducked tours of jihad with repeated re-ups of Madrassa study in 1999, 2000, and early 2001. He was captured by elements of the 101st Airborne soon after the Taliban flight from the city. Le Brun was originally detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After his claims to American citizenship were verified, he was transferred first to an army brig at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, then later to Texas to stand trial on state misdemeanor charges of "consorting with the enemy." Le Brun was later determined not in fact to be a US citizen but rather a citizen of Luxembourg. He is currently fighting extradition from the United States from an INS holding center in Miami, Florida.