Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Alleged 9/11 mastermind set for court

04 May 2012, 15:16

 Washington - Justice may be a long time coming, but more than a decade after 11 September 2001, the alleged masterminds of the attacks are due to get their day in court.

The five men have spent the last few years in the high-security prison on the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

On Saturday, the alleged terrorists led by alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are to appear before a military tribunal in Guantanamo to hear the charges against them.

Ten years, seven months and 24 days after the suicide attacks on New York and Washington that took nearly 3 000 lives, the proceeding is under way "to ensure that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others who are accused of these heinous crimes are brought to justice", White House spokesperson Jay Carney said.

According to the Pentagon, the charges include terrorism, hijacking aircraft, conspiracy, murder, attacking civilians, intentionally causing serious bodily injury and destruction of property.

The military court is to begin with the formal reading of the charges. A routine procedure that usually lasts only a few minutes, in this case, with all its intricacies, the reading is likely to be longer.


Mohammed and fellow defendants Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi and Walid bin Attash already stood before a court in Guantanamo once, in June 2008.

Mohammed used the procedure for a stage, loudly mocking the US court system and demanding to be sentenced to death.

"This is what I want," he told the military judge. "I'm looking to be martyr for long time."

Mohammed, who was arrested in 2003 in Pakistan, accused then-president George W Bush of conducting a crusade against the Muslim world. The defendant rejected his lawyer as an agent of the US government and said he could not accept lawyers with no knowledge of Islamic law anyway.

At that time, the main trial never got underway.

When Democrat Barack Obama moved into the White House in January 2009, he intended to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and bring suspected terrorists before civilian courts on US soil. Obama suspended all active military courts, and moved to try the 11 September suspects in New York.

Double-edged sword

However, his plans met with strong opposition in Congress and from local authorities in New York. So, in June, charges were again brought against the defendants in Guantanamo, and in April the case was ordered to trial.

Mohammed, who in preliminary legal procedure emerged as the group's spokesperson, could well get his wish: The prosecution is seeking the death penalty for all five defendants.

That is a double-edged sword for the US government, which would like to avoid making the alleged top terrorists into martyrs in the eyes of al-Qaeda sympathisers. The dilemma, according to Justice Department sources, is one of the reasons why the trial was so long postponed.

The main cause of the delays, however, is the complexity of the legal issues - first and foremost as to what evidence is to be allowed.

According to CIA documents made public in 2009, Mohammed underwent the interrogation method known as waterboarding - a simulated drowning - 183 times at a secret prison in March 2003.

The New York Times reported that Mohammed was extremely willing to give information about terrorist actions and plans, particularly when interrogated by a certain CIA agent.


How much of that was the result of mistreatment? Obama has since banned the use of waterboarding.

Mohammed is regarded as a man who is prone to bragging, perhaps even about actions in which he never took part. This, too, according to military legal specialists, will need to be sorted out of his statements.

However, the prosecution's representatives remain convinced that the evidence available for the trial will be enough to secure convictions.

The reading of the charges will only launch a series of hearings before the actual trial begins, likely next year.

If it begins at all, that is. It is regarded as possible that Mohammed and his co-defendants may plead guilty on Saturday, which would considerably shorten proceedings.

But perhaps the five men will insist on their innocence, as they did in 2008. Mohammed, according to eyewitnesses of that reading of the charges, loves the limelight, and he could again try, as he did back then, to turn the trial into a show.


Tags us

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...