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Pre-trial Hearings to Resume for 5 Charged in September 11 Attacks

FILE - A courtroom sketch made available by the U.S. Department of Defense, shows Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged Sept. 11 co-conspirators at the Expeditionary Legal Complex at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, June 5, 2008.

The U.S. prosecution of five people accused of planning and aiding the September 11, 2001, terror attacks resumes with pre-trial motions Tuesday after a break of a year and a half due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, a senior al-Qaida official and alleged mastermind of the attacks, is facing trial along with his co-defendants before a military commission at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

They face charges that include conspiracy, attacking civilians, murder, hijacking aircraft and terrorism.

If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

The process to hold trials for those accused in the attacks has been slowed by legal challenges between prosecutors and defense lawyers regarding what evidence can be used. The sparring involves both issues involving classified material and the use of information obtained during interrogations that defense lawyers argue was tainted by torture.

The attacks involved nineteen men affiliated with al-Qaida hijacking four planes, crashing two of them into the World Trade Center towers in New York and crashing another into the Pentagon, just outside Washington. The fourth plane crashed into a field in the state of Pennsylvania. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people.

The United States responded by launching an invasion of Afghanistan to target al-Qaida and push the Taliban, who had harbored the terror group, from power. U.S. military operations in Afghanistan lasted just short of 20 years, coming to a close at the end of August as the Taliban once again seized control of the country.