Self-proclaimed mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, will be moved to New York to face trial at the federal courthouse in Manhattan. The announcement was made by Attorney General Eric Holder during a Friday press conference.
Holding the trials in a New York civilian court has received mixed opinions from officials.
Rudy Giuliani, who was the mayor of New York during the Sept. 11 attacks, accused the decision of being a regression to a “pre-9/11 mentality with respect to Islamic extremist terrorism.”
War criminals are typically tried in military tribunals. According to Giuliani, having the 9/11 conspirators stand trial in a civilian court is not recognizing them as war criminals. He said in a statement that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “is not just another murderer, or even a mass murderer. He murdered as part of a declared war against us—America.”
Giuliani said the decision is the “same mistake” made when trials were held in New York for Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
“We treated them like domestic criminals, when in fact they were terrorists,” Giuliani said.
New York City Mayor Bloomberg has taken a different stance. “It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered,” Bloomberg said in a Nov. 13 statement.
“When I spoke to Attorney General Holder earlier today, I told him New York City stands ready to assist the federal court in the administration of justice in any way necessary,” Bloomberg said.
White House senior adviser David Axelrod took the same stance as Bloomberg. He said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that, “We believe that these folks should be tried in New York City, as you say, near where their heinous acts were conducted, in full view in our court system, which we believe in.”
Security is among several concerns. The NYPD will need to help ensure the protection of the alleged terrorists. Bloomberg said he has “great confidence that the NYPD, with federal authorities, will handle security expertly. The NYPD is the best police department in the world and it has experience dealing with high-profile terrorism suspects and any logistical issues that may come up during the trials."
The detainees will not be transferred for trial until all the legal requirements are met, including a 45-day notice and report to Congress.
Five individuals have been charged for their alleged part in the Sept. 11 attacks: Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi.
The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 took the lives of close to 3,000 people, including 411 emergency responders in New York. The trials will be held just a few blocks from Ground Zero.
Holder said, “Federal rules allow us to seek the death penalty for capital offenses, and while we will review the evidence and circumstances following established protocols, I fully expect to direct prosecutors to seek the death penalty against each of the alleged 9/11 conspirators.”