FIVE Guantanamo Bay detainees have been formally charged with planning the 9/11 terrorist attacks which destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and part of the Pentagon. The suspects - including the alleged mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (pictured above in images released by the FBI)- are to be tried in a military court, a decision that represents a personal failure for President Barack Obama, who had hoped to close Guantanamo Bay and try terrorist suspects in a federal court. All suspects face the death penalty if found guilty.
WHO ARE THE SUSPECTS?
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
The star defendant, 'KSM' is a Pakistani who was brought up in Kuwait and educated in the US. He is alleged to have been the military operations commander for al-Qaeda's foreign operations before being captured in Pakistan in 2003 and transferred to US hands. In 2007, after four years of captivity and alleged torture, KSM is said to have admitted to planning the September 2001 attacks as well as the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and the Bali nightclub bombings among numerous other atrocities.
Ammar al-Baluchi (aka Ali Abdul Aziz Ali)
Nephew of KSM and a computer technician. Al-Baluchi is accused of transferring money to the 9/11 hijackers. He also allegedly provided plane tickets, traveller's checks, and hotel reservations and helped the hijackers to blend in by teaching them about Western customs.
Allegedly helped al-Baluchi provide finance to the hijackers.
Walid bin Attash
Allegedly acted as Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, and is said to have selected and helped train the men who hijacked the planes on 11 September.
Ramzi bin al-Shib
Captured in 2002, al-Shib was allegedly a member of the Hamburg cell along with the man who led the hijackings, Mohammed Atta. Al-Shib was refused a US visa, and was therefore unable to take part in the hijackings.
WHAT ARE THE CHARGES?The Times reports that the suspects are charged with conspiracy, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily harm, murder in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft and terrorism.
WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LONG TO BRING CHARGES?
All five defendants were first charged in 2008, but the case was suspended when Obama, who had promised to close Guantanamo Bay and try alleged terrorists in a New York federal court, was elected president. That plan failed due to opposition from New Yorkers and Congress. There was a further delay because Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald, Judge Advocate General of the US Navy, conducted a review of the case's implications and the prosecution's evidence.
WHEN WILL THE CASE START?
The defendants will appear for arraignment within 30 days, The Daily Telegraph reports. The trial should then start within months.