Tribunal begins for alleged "mastermind" of 9/11 attacks

The military tribunal of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants accused of organizing the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks began Thursday at this remote US naval base in Cuba, reported dpa.

Mohammed, believed to have once been al-Qaeda's third-ranking operative and "mastermind" of the attacks, appeared for the first time in court and in public since his capture five years ago with the other suspects to hear a reading of war crimes and other charges against them. If convicted, all five could be executed.

Mohammed sat unshackled at the front table with his attorneys and interpreter. He was wearing a white turban and tunic, frequently using his hand to brush his long, thick, black and gray beard. He was talkative in Arabic before the proceedings began. The other four men sat in succession behind him, also wearing white tunics. One defendants was locked in shackles.

Mohammed, 54, and the other defendants were to make statements but it was unclear whether they would enter pleas. The five detainees were held for years in secret CIA prisons after their capture before being transferred to military custody at Guantanamo in September 2006 to stand trial.

The court appearance marks the first time since their arrests the men have been seen publicly. The US military was not allowing photos or television broadcasts of the proceedings, but invited several dozen reporters and a handful of human rights activists to the base to watch.

Mohammed had thick, black-rimmed glasses he slid to his forehead to examine documents and replied "yes" when the judge, Marine Colonel Ralph Kohlman, asked him if he understood English or would prefer a translator.

"Mine is not bad," Mohammed said in English while requesting to occasionally communicate though a translator.

In some cases I will translate it in English to be more accurate," Mohammed told the judge, adding previous statements have been poorly translated. "No need for translator now."

The four other defendants are Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the alleged liaison between the hijackers and al-Qaeda's leadership; Walid bin Attash, believed to have trained some of the hijackers; Ali Abd al- Aziz Ali, Mohammed's nephew and alleged deputy; and Mustafa Ahmed al- Hawsawi, suspected of helping the hijackers enroll in flight schools. All of them seemed capable of speaking some English but retained their right to use translators.

Bin al-Shibh leaned forward at times, smiling and chatting with Mohammed.

Mohammed reportedly admitted in a statement during his captivity that he planned the September 11 attacks from "A to Z" and a host of other terrorist attacks and plots. He also admitted to the murder of American Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 in Pakistan. The Pentagon released a transcript of his statement in March 2007.

The charges against the men include 169 counts of murder in violation of the law of war, conspiracy, attacking civilians and civilian objects, terrorism and hijacking. Other charges are causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property and providing material support for terrorism. Motions are expected to take place in the coming weeks and a September 15 date has been tentatively set for opening arguments.

Kohlman opened the hearings by discussing procedural matters before the prosecutor, Pentagon civilian Bob Swann, took the podium to declare the United States was ready to being the trials.

Mohammed has been a focus of civil rights groups who argue the US government abused or tortured him during his years of secret confinement. The CIA has admitted that Mohammed, often referred to as KSM, was among three detainees subjected to waterboarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning.

The trial of Mohammed and the four others is the first big case so far to appear before the controversial military commissions set up by President George W Bush to try suspects in the war on terrorism. Although Bush announced the commissions in 2002, the process has been slow and frequently bogged down by challenges in US federal courts. Not a single trial has been completed.

A Supreme Court ruling forced Bush to revamp the process and get congressional approval, which he subsequently did. The Supreme Court is set to rule on a case later this month, and a decision against the White House could once again derail Bush's longstanding effort to convict and punish those believed responsible for attacks that left 2,973 people dead.

Critics of the latest commissions charge the process remains flawed, mostly because evidence might be admitted that was obtained through mistreatment of detainees and that the rules on the admittance of hearsay evidence are too relaxed. The judge will have final say about what type of evidence is allowed.

The five men are being held at a secret location on Guantanamo, off limits to reporters, separate from the main facility housing detainees.

There is no facility at Guantanamo Bay for carrying out executions, and it remains unclear how the Pentagon would proceed to hand out a death sentence. The US military has not executed anyone since 1961.

The Pentagon had sought to try a sixth person with KSM, but the charges were dropped without a stated reason. Al-Qhatani was believed to be the 20th hijacker in the September 11 attacks but was refused entry into the United States before the plot hatched. He was later captured in Afghanistan.

Flydubai to resume flights at Georgian Batumi International Airport
Flydubai to resume flights at Georgian Batumi International Airport
Autoclave gas blocks plant construction launched in Kazakhstan's Turkestan
Autoclave gas blocks plant construction launched in Kazakhstan's Turkestan
Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan State Statistical Committee shares data on reconstruction of roads
Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan State Statistical Committee shares data on reconstruction of roads
Loading Bars
Latest
Iran cuts number of centrifuges enriching uranium to 60% purity, IAEA report says
3 rockets land near Baghdad airport in Iraq
Israel reports 189 new COVID-19 cases, 837,668 in total
Eight missing in Shanghai factory fire
Georgian FM meets Turkish counterpart in Bucharest
UN Environment, WHO support Georgia in deciding on regulation on lead paint
Uzbekistan’s business activity index sharply increases
55 new cases of "double mutation" variant found in UK in latest week
Azerbaijan's banking sector wraps up 1Q2021 with profit
Internet data transmission speed slightly down in Azerbaijan
National Bank of Georgia sells funds at foreign exchange auction
Georgia sees increase in vegetables export
State Customs Committee discloses export of natural gas from Azerbaijan to Georgia
Turkmen Ministry of Agriculture extends tender for purchase of necessary goods
Flydubai to resume flights at Georgian Batumi International Airport
Polymetal International boosts gold output in Kazakhstan, Russia
Brazil reports 3,472 more deaths
Kazakh gas supply company opens tender for construction of operational base
Georgia unveils data on exports of fruits and nuts in 1Q2021
Azerbaijan plans to increase production of fish and fish products
Turkey’s export of furniture and timber to Turkmenistan down
Kyrgyzstan ranks second in world in terms of cheapest mobile internet
Iran's annual exports of dried fruit, nuts grows %42
Georgia opens 69-th online session of UN Economic Commission for Europe
World community must know about Armenian atrocities in Azerbaijan – French lawyer
PM Modi announces India-US partnership on climate, clean energy
Azerbaijan Airlines to start operating special flights to London
Building of Azerbaijan’s Mud Volcanoes Tourism Complex to look like crater from above
Strengthening confidence-building measures in Azerbaijan-Armenia relations most important - Russian MFA
Georgia publishes budget performance report of 1Q2021
French lawyers arrive in Azerbaijan’s Ganja city, shelled by Armenia during war (PHOTO)
EIB financing helped to launch 60 satellites into space in 2020
EIB likely to support dev’t of renewable energy sphere in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens for Apr. 22
Azerbaijan confirms 2,047 more COVID-19 cases, 2,610 recoveries
Baku entitled to demand compensation from Armenia – Russian political analyst
IATA revises 2021 forecasts of world airlines losses
Azerbaijan to open tourism bureau in Israel
Belarus to supply components for Azerbaijan to assemble tractors in 2021
Several more Russian airlines allowed to operate flights to Baku
EIB exploring new project ideas to support digitalization across Eastern Partnership
SOCAR won't participate in sales of Antipinski Refinery’s property
NCOC talks Marine Access Channels Project plans at Kazakh Kashagan field
Azerbaijan's Aghdam in complete ruins - French lawyer
Uzbekistan’s Central Bank notes decrease of inflation rate
EAG working on assessing Turkmenistan's compliance with FATF recommendations
Uzbekistan GTL to buy pipes via tender
Kazakhstan’s KazTransOil to pay out dividends for 2020
Economy Ministry shares data on revenues from Azerbaijan's non-oil and gas sector
Turkmenistan elected member of Executive Board of UN Entity for Gender Equality, Empowerment of Women
Historical monuments in Azerbaijan's Aghdam vandalized - French criminal justice attorney
Kazakhstan’s KazTransOil decreases oil transshipment volumes in 1Q2021
Turkmenistan increases processing of agricultural products
Turkmen company exports tomatoes to Austria
Autoclave gas blocks plant construction launched in Kazakhstan's Turkestan
Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan launches new communication facilities in 1Q2021
Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan sees decrease in insurance portfolio for 1Q2021
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling
Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan State Statistical Committee shares data on reconstruction of roads
Equinor to electrify over 35% of its total oil & gas output base by 2025
Russia leads among countries exporting goods to Azerbaijan
Iran’s CBI allocates funds for import of essential products
Output from Georgian Enguri HPP to increase after reconstruction - Director of Enguri HPP
Azerbaijan shares footage from Jabrayil's Shahverdili village (VIDEO)
Tesla opens Tel Aviv pop-up store
Russian airline receives permission to operate flights to Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan’s 3M2021 retail trade turnover of small business decreases
Number of bank accounts increases in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan
American Airlines loss narrows as travel demand picks up
Azerbaijan jointly with Russia sets up car manufacturing enterprise
Number of innovative companies worldwide grows
Kazakhstan boosts production of coal, some petroleum products
Swiss president heads for damage-control EU summit
Etihad Airways to stop operating Boeing 777-300ER jets this year
Installation of info boards on roads leading to Azerbaijan's liberated lands continues (VIDEO)
French human rights activists visiting Azerbaijan's Aghdam (PHOTO)
Georgia increases imports of tomatoes from Azerbaijan
Israeli airline to organize charter flights to Uzbekistan’s Tashkent
Kazakh president points out need to timely oversee major oil projects
US must choose between real ally Ankara and fictional history - Turkish presidential administration
Kazakhstan's trade with Italy down
Uzbekistan boosts import of electric cars
Azerbaijan names winner of auction for right to develop clay field in Goygol
Azerbaijan implementing "Smart Grid" concept in Sugovushan settlement (VIDEO)
Кazakh Electricity Grid Operating Company to buy spares via tender
Uzbekistan exports dried fruits to Malaysia through Turkey
Area of agricultural land in Iran equipped with modern irrigation systems growing
ADB introducing blockchain-based food tracking project in Azerbaijan
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for April 22
Azerbaijan publishes 1Q2021 data on lending to economy
Azerbaijan clears Sugovushan, Talyshkend from mines for construction of power transmission lines (PHOTO)
Several facilities put into operation in Iran's agricultural sector
Azerbaijani president, first lady attend ceremony of laying foundation of Mud Volcanoes Tourism Complex (PHOTO)
Georgia exports ignificant number of tractors, trucks to Azerbaijan
International revenue of Halliburton up amid increased software sales
Iran launches implementation of project on Cheshmeh Khosh oil field
Halliburton sees decrease in operating income
Azerbaijani banks' demand for foreign currency exponentially up
Turkmenistan increases production of vegetables, berries
Uzbek-Korean JV announces tender for consumables
All news