News24

Long-delayed 9/11 case begins

2012-10-16 12:02

Guantanamo Bay - Long-delayed efforts to try self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and four al-Qaeda co-defendants finally got under way on Monday with a pre-trial hearing at Guantanamo.

Eleven years after the attacks and nine-and-a-half years after his capture in Pakistan, KSM sat on a court bench wearing a white turban, his beard dyed with henna, as victims' family members looked on from behind a glass screen.

KSM is accused of orchestrating the hijacked airliner plot that left 2 976 people dead, while his alleged al-Qaeda accomplices are charged with providing funding and other support for those who crashed the planes.

All five defendants face the death penalty if convicted, but their trial by military tribunal at the US naval base at Guantanamo, Cuba is not expected to start for at least another year.

"I don't think there's any justice in this court," the 47-year-old Sheikh Mohammed said in Arabic when asked by Judge James Pohl if he understood his rights.

During the five-day pre-trial hearing, the defence is seeking to prevent President Barack Obama's administration from arguing that the treatment and alleged torture of the defendants during interrogations in secret CIA prisons before being sent to Guantanamo in 2006 is classified for national security.

40-second audio delay


Media organisations and rights groups are demanding that the judge guarantee the transparency of proceedings amid fears that some sessions will be conducted in secret.

"The public has the right to see the proceedings," said James Connell, representing KSM's Pakistani nephew, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, who is believed to have helped with logistics and funding for the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The American Civil Liberties Union and media groups petitioning the court are also protesting a 40-second audio delay for journalists and others following the proceedings from behind the soundproof glass.

They say the delay, which allows a military censor to blur statements whose content is deemed a threat to national security, violates speech and press freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Initially set for June, the pre-trial hearing has been delayed on several occasions for reasons including Ramadan, scheduling conflicts, a train derailment that sparked an internet outage at the base and a tropical storm.

Pohl turned down a request for a further delay due to rat excrement and mould being discovered in the offices of defence lawyers.

Torture

Wearing a hijab out of respect for her Yemeni client Walid bin Attash, defense attorney Cheryl Bormann brought up the issue again on Monday, saying the condition of the workspace "makes the staff sick".

Pohl did rule that effective on Tuesday, the defendants can leave the courtroom during the hearings or opt not to attend at all.

Michael Schwartz, the military defence attorney for Bin Attash, tried to argue that a discussion of torture was necessary to decide that issue, saying hauling them into court would subject them to emotional strain.

But Pohl shut down his line of reasoning as "irrelevant".

When Pohl tried to make the defendants understand the proceedings would go on without them, even if somehow they managed to escape from the US detention facility, Aziz Ali retorted: "I'll make sure to leave some notes."

KSM, a Kuwaiti-born Pakistani who attended university in the United States, was regarded as one of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's most trusted and intelligent lieutenants.

Daniel Pearl

In addition to felling the Twin Towers, the trained engineer claims to have personally beheaded US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 with his "blessed right hand" and to have helped in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing that killed six people.

Bin Attash is accused of masterminding the attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, which killed 17 US soldiers.

The other co-defendants are Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni who rented a flat in Germany with chief 9/11 attacker Mohammed Atta, and Mustapha al-Hawsawi, a Saudi associate of Bin Laden who is accused of arranging funding for the plot.

Hawsawi's attorney said his client would not attend Tuesday's proceedings.

On Monday, the defendants whispered amongst themselves. At times, KSM read a newspaper, stroking his dyed beard. Hawsawi briefly invoked Allah before giving the name of his new civilian attorney.

The long legal bid to get justice for the 9/11 victims began back in February 2008 when the five men were charged by a military commission set up by former president George W Bush's administration.

The trial got under way in June 2008 but was scrapped by Obama's administration in 2009 in favour of civilian proceedings in New York in the shadow of where the World Trade Centre once stood.

Opposition from Republicans and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg forced a U-turn in April 2011 as Attorney General Eric Holder announced the five would be tried in Guantanamo by a reformed military tribunal.

They were arraigned on revised charges during a 13-hour hearing in May in which the defendants prayed and refused to speak.

Comments
  • louis.kriel - 2012-10-16 12:10

    Innocent, rather put George W Bush on trial!

      dhavandran.palavar - 2012-10-16 12:41

      good one louis. america thinks they are world justice. we know that evet president is controlled by a certain secular group who also wear that small cap to those who they call enemies.

      umm.muhammad.12 - 2012-10-16 13:50

      @louis.kriel.great to see that there are still ppl out there that don't fall for the drivel which the bbc's cnn's and fox's call 'media'.big thumbs up from me!but judging from the thumbs down that you received looks like we are outnumbered by these sheeple ( sheep in the guise of human beings).u are write! Put bush the terrorist on trial.doesn't mean that you where an expensive suit and sat in the white house, you are any lesser of a terrorist! The truth shall prevail and falsehood will perish.certainly falsehood is bound to perish! Now watch all the PEOPLE give me a thumbs up and all the SHEEPLE aka biased imperialists give me a thumbs down! Bring it on!

      umm.muhammad.12 - 2012-10-16 13:50

      @louis.kriel.great to see that there are still ppl out there that don't fall for the drivel which the bbc's cnn's and fox's call 'media'.big thumbs up from me!but judging from the thumbs down that you received looks like we are outnumbered by these sheeple ( sheep in the guise of human beings).u are right! Put bush the terrorist on trial.doesn't mean that you where an expensive suit and sat in the white house, you are any lesser of a terrorist! The truth shall prevail and falsehood will perish.certainly falsehood is bound to perish! Now watch all the PEOPLE give me a thumbs up and all the SHEEPLE aka biased imperialists give me a thumbs down! Bring it on!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 15:43

      A cluster of delusional people being utterly stupid, mixed in with a couple of old generation Muslims being left behind in their delusions by the new, 100 million strong.

      umm.muhammad.12 - 2012-10-16 17:45

      39 sheeple and counting.....

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 18:41

      Umm, the imperialism paradigm is old, stale and self-destructive, steeped in imprisoning and debilitating pseudo-victimhood.. For your sake and the sake of future generations, best to drop it and adopt a more accurate and enlightened belief-system.

  • derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-10-16 12:18

    Military tribunals are not justice!!

  • dhavandran.palavar - 2012-10-16 12:39

    will there be a human rights case against the nuclear bombing of hiroshima and nagasaki, use of agent orange in the vietnam war, the plight of the innocent victims killed by israel's bombing of wrong targets, the plight of the palestines and israel's contempt of an international ruling that no development takes place in the neutral zone where the palestines live ? just asking.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 15:50

      Will there be anything other than parroting ignorant street rhetoric by Dhvandran, rhetoric that has been thrown out by 100 million new generation Muslims of the Middle East, but still believed by him in his laziness and stupidity? Will Dhavandran say or do anything about the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of innocent Muslims being slaughtered and maimed by Jihadists and unelected dictators in his midst, who are causing absolute mayhem in our world and plying the very street rhetoric he is still falling for?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 15:52

      Israel was created in 1948 from 52% of the land formerly occupied by the Jewish and Palestinian people, and Palestine 43%. Most of the Israeli territory was the Negev Desert. Jerusalem fell into neither territory. Palestinians with their unelected, self-serving neighbors declared war on Israel the very next day. In the 1960's they even invaded Israel twice. Full military invasions. The result: Israel survived and pushed them back, gaining territory in the process. This is the origin of what you wrongly call "stealing land". There have been almost daily attacks by Palestinians, incited by their self-serving unelected backers. Palestinians even teach their children at Kindergarten to attack Israel, rather than be peaceful. Children in Kindergarten. From day one, and even today it's wage war on Israel. Israel defends herself. Yes sometimes going too far, which is unacceptable, but self-defense nonetheless. All that needs to happen is for Palestinians to choose peace side by side with Israel. This is more likely going forward now because the unelected dictators are being removed from power by their people, one by one. They will no longer use the Palestinians for their own internal political ploys. Whether you get this or not is entirely up to you. The alternative of course is to remain in the dark, ineffective fringes of reality, and left behind by events.

      andrew.arnesen - 2012-10-16 16:18

      Aah, Fred, such a refreshing glossing-over of facts, I almost forgot that I am an adult- reading your pro-Israel rhetoric reminds me of all the arguments that I heard growing up and makes me long for my youth when I was innocent, fun-loving and ... S T U P I D !!! Wrong remains wrong, remember? To try and portray the Israelis as gamely self-defensive is pure BS. They are most often the aggressors and their retaliation and endemic apartheid against the Palestinians is far from being self-defence. Murder remains murder no matter who is doing the killing and who the dying.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 18:44

      You're still being S-T-U-P-I-D Andy. You're also being left behind by the new generation. Your choice.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 18:45

      Ziyaad, I have yet to read just one intelligent post from you on this website.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 20:17

      No-one is making you read my posts, Dunkie. Which means you are making your own life boring. That has nothing to do with me.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 20:18

      Ziyaad, you're a racist. With those obviously ignorant and hateful beliefs, pretty much whatever you see is false.

  • dhavandran.palavar - 2012-10-16 12:59

    my biggest question is who would be so lucky to actually video the whole 911 tragedery as the plane was comming in? even an amateur would make a better video. it seems it was deliberately made to look

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 15:44

      In your utterly stupid delusion, yes.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 18:47

      No surprise: Ziyaad is an ignorant racist.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 20:19

      It is "a known fact" only to you, an obviously ignorant racist. Shame on you. This is 2012 South Africa. How can you be so arrogant, blind and hateful.

  • MrDinwiddie - 2012-10-16 13:09

    Complete waste of time. Surely by now many people know exactly what happened that day

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-16 14:35

    One doesn't need to be a conspiracy theorist to know that the official version of 9/11 is a stitch up! There are just a lot of coincidences that the official version has tried to side step.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 15:46

      Then again, this comes form someone who believes Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. I kid you not. Fidel's exact words in the US/Mandela thread when Hilary Clinton visited South Africa. Totally delusional.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 18:47

      Mr Ziyoo: ignorant racist.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 20:20

      Your "facts" Ziyaad are racist and ignorant. Your posts are all over this website. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence can see that.

      moses.mabhida.52 - 2012-10-16 21:01

      Ziyaad, you scared of the truth? Fred tells the truth, you just can't cope with the truth

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