Case of suspected 9/11 mastermind set to resume at Guantanamo ahead of 20-year anniversary of attacks
The man suspected of masterminding the 9/11 terror attacks against the United States is set to appear for a pre-trial hearing with four others after an 18-month setback because of Covid, and ahead of the 20-year anniversary.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged al-Qaeda members are accused of plotting the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people in New York; Washington DC; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on 11 September 2001. They were first imprisoned in 2006, but have spent years awaiting trial.
A pre-trial hearing on Tuesday for the five suspects follows an initial hearing in February 2020, after which Covid caused the proceedings to be postponed.
Four co-defendants also accused of plotting the attacks – Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ammar al-Baluchi and Mustafa al Hawsawi – will appear with Mr Mohammed at Camp Justice, a court facility on Guantanamo.
The pre-trial hearing will last for 10 days, after which another pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 1-19 November.
Among the issues to be decided is what evidence will be allowed in the courtroom, which was built in 2008 at a cost of $12 million (£8.7 million), for the purpose of trying the 9/11 defendants.
The former warehouse building is able to host 53 reporters, family members and survivors who can watch the proceedings from behind a soundproof barrier. Some of the information will likely be classified.
Although there is no date for the trial itself, according to ABC News, it could start as soon as April 2022. A lawyer for Mr Mohammed, David Nevin, meanwhile told the BBC that he thought the trial would take 20 years to conclude.
Mr Mohammed is thought to have convinced Osama bin Laden, the former al-Qaeda leader who was assassinated by US Navy Seals in 2011, to train pilots to hijack planes and fly them into buildings in the US.
On 11 September 2001, four planes were hijacked in attacks that targeted the World Trade Centre in New York City, and the Pentagon. The fourth plane was headed for Washington DC before it crashed.
Both presidents Joe Biden and Barack Obama vowed to close Guantanamo’s prison, where 39 suspects are currently held. At its height, hundreds of alleged al-Qaeda members were imprisoned there.