Pentagon charges Sept. 11 suspects, seeks death penalty
By Pauline Jelinek
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has charged six detainees at Guantanamo Bay with murder and war crimes in connection with the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and officials said Monday the United States will seek the death penalty.
Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann said the charges lay out a long-term sophisticated plan by the al-Qaida terrorist network to attack the United States of America. The attack over six years ago killed nearly 3,000 people.
Hartmann, the legal adviser to the U.S. military tribunal system, said the six include Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the attacks, in which hijacked planes were flown into buildings in New York and Washington. Another hijacked plane crashed in the fields of western Pennsylvania.
The military will recommend that the six men be tried together before a military tribunal. But the cases may be clouded because of recent revelations that Mohammmed was subject to a harsh interrogation technique known as waterboarding — which critics call torture.
Asked what impact that will have on the case, Hartmann said it will be up to the military judge to determine what evidence is allowed.
Prosecutors have been working for years to assemble the case against suspects in the attacks that prompted the Bush administration to launch its global war on terror.
The other five men being charged are: Mohammed al-Qahtani, the man officials have labeled the 20th hijacker; Ramzi Binalshibh, said to have been the main intermediary between the hijackers and leaders of Al Qaeda; Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, known as Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has been identified as Mohammed's lieutenant for the 2001 operation; al-Baluchi's assistant, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi; and Waleed bin Attash, a detainee known as Khallad, who investigators say selected and trained some of the hijackers.