Saturday, February 09, 2008

Capital Charges Against Six Guantanamo Detainees for the 9-11 Conspiracy Expected to Be Filed Soon

“I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z”---Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

The media is reporting that perhaps six alleged 9-11 terrorists will soon be charged with war crimes that carry the death penalty. They will be tried under the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

The names of the detainees and the charges are not yet known. The official website of the DoD or the DoD's Military Commissions site will probably be the first to report the specifics.

The charges will be filed at Guantanamo in the military commission system. A Defense Department press release (1-31-08) said this about the war crimes trials:

Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, legal advisor to the convening authority, has stated that these war crime proceedings will continue to move forward in open trials and with more due process than any alleged war criminal has historically received. Military Commission procedures include the presumption of innocence; a burden of proof on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; the right to remain silent; the right to present evidence and a prohibition from drawing any adverse inference if an accused does not testify or present any evidence; and representation by a military defense counsel free of charge with the option to retain civilian counsel at no expense to the U.S. government.

...Of the 275 detainees at Guantanamo, approximately 80 are expected to face trial by military commission."

The 9-11 conspiracy's self-confessed 9-11 "Mastermind," Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, will probably be one of the six people charged with complicity in 9-11, perhaps as soon as next week.

The delusional Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) gazes into his crystal ball and opines that the accused war criminal KSM should be spared the death penalty. According to the MIM:

A death penalty for Khalid Sheikh Muhammad would be a potential coverup in understanding the truth behind the 9/11 attacks. Khalid Sheikh Muhammad is now an historical figure who should be carefully kept alive until a time when Amerikans can more coolly assess what happened on 9/11--at a time when Amerika's political leaders do not have a self-interest in evaluation of the question. It's not just what he himself did but what he knows more broadly.

Uh-huh. I suspect that there is not much that KSM's interrogators don't know about the 9-11 "mastermind."

The New York Times profile of KSM notes that he was a Kuwaiti-born Baluchi who came to the U.S. after high school and earned a college degree in America:

Mr. Mohammed, an ethnic Baluchi, was born in Kuwait on April 24, 1965. He is the uncle of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. After graduation from secondary school, he enrolled at Chowan College in Murfreesboro, N.C. and then transferred to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. He graduated in 1986, earning a degree in mechanical engineering.

William Glaberson of the
The New York Times (2-9-08) reports:

Military prosecutors are in the final phases of preparing the first sweeping case against suspected conspirators in the plot that led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, and drew the United States into war, people who have been briefed on the case said.

The charges, to be filed in the military commission system at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, would involve as many as six detainees held at the detention camp, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the former senior aide to Osama bin Laden, who has said he was the principal planner of the plot.

...A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, declined to comment specifically. But he added that the government was preparing a case against “individuals who have been involved in some of the most grievous acts of violence and terror against the United States and our allies.”

“The prosecution team is close to moving forward on referring charges on a number of individuals,” Mr. Whitman said.

...Officials have said detainees now held at Guantánamo are responsible for attacks that killed thousands of people, including the United States Embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998, the attack on the destroyer Cole in 2000, and the Bali nightclub bombing in 2002.

[Note--The Cole and the Bali nightclub bombings both occurred on October 12, Columbus Day. See an article about the significance of this date for Bin Laden here.]

...It was not clear Friday whether final decisions had been made about precise charges and which detainees are to be included.

But it is known that the prosecutors have considered charges of murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism because of the Sept. 11 deaths. It is also known that a joint team of military and Department of Justice lawyers working on the case have considered charging six of the best-known Guantánamo detainees [full text].

Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal (2-9-08) reports:

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba -- Capital charges against six alleged leaders of the Sept. 11, 2001, conspiracy could be filed as early as next week, officials said, launching a prosecution Americans have awaited since four coordinated airline suicide-hijackings left nearly 3,000 dead at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

...[T]hose expected to be charged include al Qaeda commander Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who, according to a transcript of a Guantanamo detention hearing, confessed to plotting not only 9/11 but a host of other crimes, including the 1993 World Trade Center attack and shoe bomber Richard Reid's plot to blow up a transatlantic airliner in December 2001. Other potential defendants include Mr. Mohammed's nephew, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, who allegedly arranged financing and travel for the hijackers; Ramzi Binalshibh, who, after being denied entry to the U.S., allegedly served as al Qaeda's overseas conduit to the hijackers; Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, who allegedly helped Mr. Mohammed manage the hijackers' financing; Walid bin Attash, who allegedly helped Mr. bin Laden select the hijackers; and Mohammed al-Qahtani, an alleged "20th hijacker" [I have added the Wikipedia links to the six suspects' names. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has also posted the biographies of Guantanamo detainees that include some of the six suspects.]

...While charges may be filed in short order, an actual trial may be a long time coming. None of the potential defendants has yet been appointed a criminal defense attorney, and any lawyer taking on such a case would require months to digest the mountains of evidence collected by the government, as well as to conduct any investigation of his or her own...

...Col. Lawrence Morris, who became chief prosecutor three months ago, said he is confident that the evidence his lawyers put forward "is completely defensible" and "can withstand any scrutiny." Col. Morris, who previously ran the Army's criminal law branch, heads a team of military lawyers and civilian Justice Department attorneys who he says "have an excellent collaborative relationship."

...Separately, on Friday the military issued new charges of conspiracy with Mr. bin Laden against two long-time Guantanamo inmates, Ali Hamza Suliman al Bahlul and Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi. Mr. Bahlul is alleged to be Mr. bin Laden's "media secretary" who prepared a propaganda video celebrating the 2000 al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole, while Mr. Qosi is accused of serving Mr. bin Laden as a bodyguard and an al Qaeda "logistical support" operative [full text].

Here is the 2-8-08 DoD press release about the three charges sworn against Guantanamo detainee Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al Bahlul.

Here is the 2-8-08 DoD press release about the charges referred to a military commission in the case of Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, aka “Abu Khobaib al Sudani.”

Here is the official website of the DoD and the DoD's Military Commissions site so readers can check for updates on this story when we see who the prosecutors actually charge and what the charges actually are.

In 2006, government officials and investigative reporters commented on the possibility that people in the United States--perhaps even Americans--may have knowingly helped the 9-11 terrorists.

I wonder if any information about that possibility has developed. I have written about that possibility here, and a little bit here.

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