Nov. 12, 2009 — -- On Friday, according to federal sources, Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announced that as many as many as nine high-value Guantanamo detainees will be returned to the United States for trial in civilian and military courts. A senior administration official tells ABC News that self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and four other high-value detainees will be tried in federal court in New York.
Officials in New York say they have not been informed of any decisions, but Manhattan's federal courthouse has often been cited as a "sentimental favorite" for the 9/11 trials. Like the now-destroyed World Trade Center, it is in lower Manhattan. The Southern District is also one of the jurisdictions in the United States with the most experience trying terrorism cases.
A court order requires the government to make a decision on the status of the detainees by Monday. The moves, however, may not be made for 45 days.
Among the detainees being held at Guantanamo are five accused in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon – Mohammed, as well as Walid bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi.
In March, the five men described themselves in a filing with the Guantanamo Bay military commission then trying them as "terrorists to the bone" and referred to the accusation of involvement in the attacks as "a badge of honor."
Officials in the Southern District of New York who would be involved in any prosecution have begun thinking through issues including preparing a room for classified evidence, and designating a courtroom large enough to hold the overflow crowd and the heavy security that would be needed for a celebrity defendant like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Officials have said they anticipate no difficulty in hosting such a high-profile trial.