Guantanamo Bay Military Trial Set for Alleged 9/11 Mastermind

April 5, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

An image of a courtroom shows Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (C) and co-defendant Walid Bin Attash (L) attending a pre-trial session December 8, 2008 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Sketch by Janet Hamlin-Pool/Getty Images)
An image of a courtroom shows Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (C) and co-defendant Walid Bin Attash (L) attending a pre-trial session December 8, 2008 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Sketch by Janet Hamlin-Pool/Getty Images)
The alleged 9/11 attacks mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four alleged co-conspirators will be tried in a Guantanamo Bay military court rather than a civilian one in New York City as was proposed, the Justice Department said Monday.

“After consulting with prosecutors … and after thoroughly studying the case, it became clear to me that the best venue for prosecution was in federal court,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder announced plans to prosecute Mohammed in November 2009 but officials mulled where they were going to have the trials, or if Mohammed would face a military commission or a civilian trial. The Lower Court in Manhattan was one place that was considered.

“We had carefully evaluated the evidence and concluded that we could prove the defendants’ guilt while adhering to the bedrock traditions and values of our laws,” said Holder, who called the indictment that was unsealed Monday “one of the most well-researched and documented cases I have ever seen.”

President Barack Obama recently lifted a moratorium on new terror cases held via military commissions.

Holder criticized several Congress members who “intervened and imposed restrictions” on the Obama administration from bringing Guantanamo prisoners to trial in the U.S.

Mohammed has been in U.S. custody since 2003 and has admitted to masterminding the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, according to prosecutors. In 2007, he claimed that he was tortured at Guantanamo Bay and received the controversial waterboard method a number of times.

Prosecutors also said that he was behind the 2002 nightclub bombing in Indonesia, the murder of Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The Justice Department noted that he claimed to be close to Osama bin Laden.

The Justice Department said that the suspects have been transferred over to the Department of Defense to proceed with the commissions.

Other alleged conspirators that were named in Monday’s indictment include Walid Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi, the Justice Department stated.