Manning’s WikiLeaks Breach Helped Al-Qaida Recruit: Witness

FORT MEADE, Md. (Reuters) -

U.S. soldier Bradley Manning’s release of secret files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified data in the nation’s history helped al-Qaida’s recruiting efforts, an expert on radical Islam testified on Thursday.

The terrorist group used Manning’s releases to claim that “the United States does not value human life,” particularly among Muslims, said Navy Commander Youssef Aboul-Enein, an adviser to the Pentagon’s Joint Intelligence Task Force for Combating Terrorism.

Manning, a 25-year-old Army private first class, was convicted last week on 19 charges for providing more than 700,000 diplomatic cables, battlefield videos and other classified data to the WikiLeaks website.

His court-martial has moved into a sentencing phase, and he could face up to 90 years in prison.

Manning’s defense attorneys will have an opportunity to call their own witnesses in coming days.

Testifying for the prosecution, Aboul-Enein said al-Qaida used a video Manning had provided to WikiLeaks of a U.S. helicopter gunship in 2007 firing at suspected insurgents in Baghdad. A dozen people were killed, including two Reuters news staff.