Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mind of the terrorist attacks of September 11, will finally be tried January 11, 2021 at the US military base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba – almost two decades after the attacks by al Qaeda that killed 2976 people on American soil.
The judge in the case, Air Force Colonel Shane Cohen, set the date – just a few months before the 20th anniversary of the coordinated attacks on September 11, 2001 involving jet airliners in New York, Washington. DC and Pennsylvania – to begin the selection of a jury composed of military officers in the war tribunal complex called Camp Justice.
Mohammed and four other jihadists – Walid bin Attash, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Ammar al-Baluchi and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi – will suffer the death penalty in the case.
The Pakistani native and his co-defendants are accused of terrorism, hijacking of planes, murder in violation of the laws of war, conspiracy, civilian attack, attack of civil objects, intentionally causing serious physical injuries and destruction of property in violation of the law of war.
Cohen's order also establishes a number of other deadlines in a case that has been bogged down in a preliminary dispute since the five defendants were charged in May 2012.
Mohammed was captured in March 2003 in a house in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, along with al-Hawsawi and many other Islamist goons.
In September 2006, the United States revealed that Mohammed had been detained in a secret CIA prison abroad – where the Justice Department declared he had been embarked 183 times – and that he had been transferred to Guantanamo.
During the interrogation, he admitted behead Wall Street newspaper reporter Daniel Pearl – an atrocity captured in a video that quickly became viral – and assumed responsibility for Richard Reid's failed bomber attempt to blow up an airliner on the Atlantic Ocean, the ; Bali night attack in Indonesia, the World Trade Center attack in 1993 and other attempted plots that sparked.
"I was responsible for the operation of September 11th, from A to Z," he said.
During his arrogance, Mohammed said he wanted to represent himself and plead guilty to his role in the September 11 attacks and become a martyr.
The justice department under President Obama initially wanted to try KSM at the federal court in New York, but changed course after criticizing the costs and security risks of trying it so close to Ground Zero.
Meanwhile, his lawyer said that with several appeals expected after what appears to be a sure conviction in the military courtroom, KSM will probably die before his case is finally resolved.
The lawyer David Nevin said The Guardian that an initial appeal could take five years, with an appeal by the circuit court that will take another three or four years and four years later, a final appeal to the Supreme Court.
"There is every chance my client dies in prison before this process is completed," Nevin said.
"I don't have the statistics on someone's life expectancy in a US prison, even considering that it would be someone who was tortured, but I'm sure it's below normal," he said.
And Terry McDermott, co-author of the book, KSM hunting stated that the main reason why KSM was not tried was the torture suffered during the so-called black site.
The defense lawyers, he explained, claim that the confessions are useless given that they arrived after the jihadists were tortured by CIA agents.
"The whole thing would have ended quickly enough had it not been for the accused's preventive torture, that's why they fought for 10 years if the confessions they made were admissible in court," he said. The Post.
The confessions, he added, arrived while they were already in Guantanamo, prompting prosecutors to argue that they should have been eligible.
But the defense claimed that they were contaminated regardless of when they were administered due to the persistent psychological effects of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods.
And the two sides are still discussing, with pre-trial hearings on their eligibility planned for the autumn, he said.
The defendants also asked for an agreement in which they would plead guilty and would therefore cooperate with the government's ongoing investigations into 9/11 and al Qaeda.
But the Trump administration ruled out any settlement with the terrorists.
McDermott also said that if the trial was held before the federal court in Manhattan, KSM would have been convicted years ago, noting that his nephew had been tried and convicted there for the first attack on the World Trade Center and that hundreds of other terrors the cases had been successfully pursued there.
This article originally appeared on The New York Post and has been reproduced with permissio n