Alleged 9-11 Mastermind To Be Tried in New York City, DOJ to Announce

By Matthew Harwood

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will announce today the prosecution of the self-described mastermind of the 9-11 attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and four co-conspirators in federal court in New York City, reports The New York Times. Several other men—including the mastermind of the 2000 U.S.S. Cole bombing, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri—will face trial before a military commission.


During a DOJ press conference today, Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to explain why Mohammed and four co-conspirators will face trial before a civilian court and Nashiri and several other men will face trial before a military commission.

The Times, however, gives a clue.

The decisions about how to prosecute Mr. Mohammed and Mr. Nashiri have been particularly difficult because their defense lawyers are expected to argue that they were illegally tortured by the Central Intelligence Agency during their confinement, tainting any evidence gathered from their interrogations.

Documents have shown that the CIA used waterboarding — a controlled drowning technique — against Mr. Mohammed 183 times in March 2003. Mr. Nashiri is one of two other detainees known to have been waterboarded before the Bush administration shut down the program, which high-level officials had approved after the Justice Department wrote legal memorandums arguing that the president, as commander-in-chief, could authorize interrogators to bypass anti-torture laws.

There has also been hostility to moving any detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba onto American soil as elected leaders have vigorously opposed sending detainees to their districts for fear it will make their communities a terrorist target. But with Mohammed and the four other detainees, the Obama administration has found a location willing to take the risk and prosecute the alleged terrorists: New York City.

New York City has already housed and prosecuted a jihadist terrorist, the “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, for his involvement in the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Currently, the city is holding Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, an alleged al Qaeda terrorist formerly held at Guantanamo, while he awaits trial in federal court for his role in the twin bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. The two attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

♦ Photo of Khalid Sheik Mohammed from Jarret


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