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Americas

Attorney General confirms alleged 9/11 mastermind will be tried in New York

Video by Catherine Nicholson

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-11-14

US Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured) announced Friday that the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees, will be sent to New York to face trial in a federal court.

The self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be sent from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre to face trial in a New York civilian court, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.

 
Mohammed, along with four other detainees accused of helping to plot the attacks, will be assigned jointly to prosecutors from the southern district of New York and the eastern district of Virginia and tried by a US federal court in Manhattan. Prosecutors will be authorised to seek the death penalty against the defendants, Holder added.
 
“After 8 months of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attack on September 11 will finally face justice. They will be brought to New York to answer for their crimes in a courthouse just blocks away from where the Twin Towers once stood”, Holder told reporters.
 
US President Barack Obama refused to comment on earlier media reports predicting the announcement, but told reporters he was “absolutely convinced Khalid Sheik Mohammed will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice".
 
“I am confident in the ability of our courts to provide these defendants with a fair trial, just as they have done for the past 200 years”, confirmed Holder.
 
Reporting from Washington, FRANCE 24’s Guillaume Meyer said the decision to send the five suspects to be tried in a US civilian court represents a major victory for Obama, who has made the closing of the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention facility a top priority.
 
“It’s a victory for Obama because he’s starting to get them out of Guantanamo and of course Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is one of the most famous Guantanamo detainees at the moment,” said Meyer. “That makes a very public case in a very public victory for Obama.” The president has called Mohammed’s transfer a "prosecutorial decision as well as a national security decision."
 
‘KSM’, otherwise know as ‘one of history’s most infamous terrorists’
 
Commonly referred to by his initials “KSM” in US intelligence circles, Mohammed was reportedly al-Qaeda’s number three when he was captured in Pakistan in March 2003.
 
US investigators into the 9/11 attacks describe him as, “one of history’s most infamous terrorists”. According to investigators, Mohammed has claimed he was the mastermind from “A to Z” of the worst terrorist attack on US soil.
 
The other four suspects likely to face trial in a New York court include Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, Walid bin Attash and Mustapha al-Hawsawi.
 
White House counsel Gregory Craig, who had been charged with finding a way to close the prison, announced his resignation shortly after news of the five prisoner’s transfers emerged. Neither Obama nor Craig gave any immediate reason for his resignation, but it has been widely reported that it is due to his failure to spearhead the closure of Guantanamo by January 2010.
 
Craig, a veteran Washington hand who led the embattled effort to shut the controversial camp for terror suspects in Cuba, said in a letter to Obama that he would step down as White House counsel on January 3.
 
"Greg Craig is a close friend and trusted adviser who tackled many tough challenges as White House counsel," said Obama, who announced in a statement that his personal attorney, Bob Bauer, would take over the key post.
 
 ‘The very place that suffered the worst of the 9/11 attacks’
 
Obama’s efforts to shut down the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba before Jan. 22, 2010 has been stymied by initial opposition from lawmakers reluctant to see detainees transferred to US soil.
 
Some of the detainees have already faced charges before US military commissions, which have been widely criticised by human rights groups for limiting defendants' rights.
 
Trying the five top suspects in New York, however, has raised fears that the trial would publicly expose US national security secrets and that the accused could face an emotional and hostile jury.
 
Selecting New York as a venue for the suspects’ trial, according to Meyer, is a “very important symbol” for the American people. “This, after all, is where the attacks took place and to see those people being sent back to the US for a trial in the very place that suffered the worst of the 9/11 attacks will be a very important event,” said Meyer.

 

 

Date created : 2009-11-13

  • USA

    Alleged 9/11 mastermind to be tried in NY court, says US media

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