Terrorism charges were refiled today against 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others, restarting the process to have them tried before a military tribunal.
The terrorist known among intelligence officials as KSM faces a myriad of counts including terrorism, hijacking an aircraft, conspiracy, murder and attacking civilians, according to a statement by Department of Defense.Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania plane crash.
In addition to Mohammed, Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi will all be tried by military tribunal and face the death penalty if convicted. They will be arraigned at the Guantanamo Bay prison within 30 days, the Defense Department said .
This is the second time the charges against Mohammed and his co-conspirators have been referred. Nearly four years ago the Obama administration decided to halt the military process to explore trying the suspects in civilian court, rather than a military tribunal.
After years of political wrangling between the administration and Congress, the case was transferred back to the military commission last year.
Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters then that despite the decision, he still believed a civilian court would have been the best mechanism for the men to face justice.
“After thoroughly studying the case, it became clear to me that the best venue for prosecution was in federal court,” Holder said. “I stand by that decision.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been critical of Guatanamo Bay and the military commission process, blasted today’s announcement, calling it a terrible mistake that promotes “second-tier justice” that undermines the U.S. justice system.
“Whatever verdict comes out of the Guantánamo military commissions will be tainted by an unfair process and the politics that wrongly pulled these cases from federal courts, which have safely and successfully handled hundreds of terrorism trials,” said ACLU head Anthony D. Romero.
“The American people have already waited far too long for justice for the 9/11 attacks, and the administration’s use of the military commissions means that justice will never truly be achieved, in the eyes of our nation or the rest of the world.”