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9/11 Attack Mastermind, Co-Plotters Arraigned at Guantanamo

  • Luis Ramirez

In this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin and reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed consults with his civilian attorney David Nevin during a break of his military hearing at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base

In this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin and reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed consults with his civilian attorney David Nevin during a break of his military hearing at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base

Five suspects accused of masterminding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States have been arraigned on nearly 3,000 counts of murder and other terrorism-related charges. The five ignored the judge and refused to cooperate with the proceedings.

September 11th, 2001 is a painful memory re-lived here by the families of some of the nearly 3,000 victims.


A handful of relatives flew here to watch the arraignment proceedings and face the accused. Clifford Russell's brother died at the World Trade Center and explains why he made the painful trip. "To see for myself in flesh and blood, the attitude, the disrespect that I've heard about for our system, the swagger," he said.

It was the first appearance of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, and the four others in three years. As they have in past appearances, the five were defiant - refusing to answer the judge's questions and delaying the procedures. One shouted at the judge.

Later, as one of the defense attorneys complained the suspects were mistreated, one of the men started undressing.

The charges against the five include conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, destruction of property, hijacking an aircraft, and terrorism.

The case was supposed to go to trial years ago, but concerns about rights violations have stalled the process.

U.S. activists have protested that the trial is being held on this base and have called for it to be in a civilian court in the United States.

The government says concerns have been dealt with. The military's chief prosecutor, Brigadier General Mark Martins, promises a fair trial.

"The law prohibits the use of any statement obtained as the result of torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. And we will implement the law. These proceedings will be fair. And I submit that we military judge-advocates [military prosecutors] who are carrying out assigned duties in this reformed process, have some standing to maintain that they will be fair," he said.

Charges could bring the death penalty for the five suspects, something Clifford Russell says he would not oppose. "Hopefully, they'll get what I believe they deserve," he said.

The trial itself may not begin for several months. For victims' relatives, the arraignment marks one step closer to achieving long-delayed justice.

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