What can 2,976 counts of murder and dozens of other charges of conspiracy, terrorism and hijacking get you? At Guantanamo Bay, Khalid Shaikh Mohammad and the other masterminds behind the September 11th attacks are about to find out the hard way.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 5, 2012
In an arraignment process that began this morning, the most speculated terrorism trial in recent memory is already off to a bumpy start. Mohammad and Co., who haven’t been seen in public in three years, are reportedly
pleading the Fifth and refusing to answer the judges’ questions. This comes as a stark contrast to the past: the last time prosecutors tried to target Mohammad in 2009, he made it clear that he wouldn’t mind
being found guilty or being executed.
And this is just the beginning. According to the defense lawyer of terrorist suspect Abdul Aziz Ali, James Connell, who arguably has the worst job in the world, “I can’t imagine any scenario where this thing gets wrapped up in six months.” Get ready, folks; this court drama is going to be here for a while.
Three years ago, President Barack Obama, as part of his prolonged effort to shut down Guantanamo Bay, decided to try to the detainees as civilians in downtown Manhattan. In regards to public opinion and the backlash from 9/11 victims’ families, all hell broke loose
. As a result, the plan was switched in 2011 and Congressional legislation was passed that kept the detainees in Cuba, thus delaying the base’s closing in general.
Now, Mohammad has been re-issued the same charges placed on him by the Bush administration but, this time, the rules are a bit different. The Obama White House, moving away from the Bush Era politics, has made it illegal to use evidence obtained through torture in military tribunals. With that being said, CIA documents have stated
that Mohammad has been water-boarded 183 times.
It goes without saying that the suspects will definitely face the death penalty if found guilty. However, with the new technicalities and the obstacles that have already arose, the situation that will ensue will be a legal testimony to the War on Terror more than anything. But it carries an emotional weight too: with Osama Bin Laden gone, the prosecution of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad and his fellow conspirators exists as the largest visual revenge for those directly or indirectly affected by that day’s atrocities. Let the trial begin.