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U.S. Charges September 11 Masterminds

Charges announced against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of orchestrating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and four others.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 4/5/2012, 5:14 AM

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Reuters

The United States on Wednesday announced charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of orchestrating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and four others accused of involvement in the plot.

The five could be sentenced to death, according to a CNN report. Along with Mohammed, the others are Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi.

The charges allege that the five are “responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., resulting in the killing of 2,976 people,” according to a Defense Department statement.

The five accused are charged, according to the statement, with “terrorism, hijacking aircraft, conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, and destruction of property in violation of the law of war. The convening authority has referred all charges to a joint trial.”

“Each of the five accused have been provided, in addition to their detailed defense counsel, learned counsel, possessing specialized knowledge and experience in death penalty cases, to assist them in their defense,” CNN quoted the Pentagon as having said.

Wednesday's action is a refiling of charges against the accused conspirators. The military initially charged Mohammed in 2008, but President Barack Obama stopped the case as part of his effort to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

Unable to close the center, Obama attempted to move the case to federal court in New York in 2009, only to run into a political firestorm. The plan was dropped after complaints about cost and security.

Last April, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the five would face a military trial at Guantanamo Bay.

The announcement of the charges came two days after the publication of an online poster, warning that the Al Qaeda terrorist organization wants to stage a repeat “performance” in New York City, where its terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people in aerial attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

The graphic poster, apparently designed by an amateur, includes the words “Al Qaeda” and “Coming Soon Again in New York.” whose skyline at sunset is shown in the background. The poster also was seen on various Arabic language websites and extremist forums.

The poster elicited alarm in the New York Police Department.