On Friday, a military judge set the trial date for the men accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks that murdered almost 3,000 Americans for January 11, 2021.
The trial will be held at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to CBS News. The leader of the group, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, confessed in 2007 that he had supervised the plot. CBS News noted, “Judge Colonel W. Shane Cohen issued a 10-page scheduling order Thursday, giving prosecutors an October 10 deadline to provide materials for the case.”
The New York Times reported, “The date set by the judge, Col. W. Shane Cohen of the Air Force, signals the start of the selection of a military jury at Camp Justice, the war court convening at the Navy base in Cuba. It is the first time that a trial judge in the case actually set a start-of-trial date, despite requests by prosecutors since 2012 to two earlier judges to do so.”
On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four commercial passenger planes. Two of the planes were flown directly into the World Trade Centers in New York City; one crashed into the Pentagon, and the fourth, United Flight 93, crashed into a Pennsylvania field when passengers fought back against the hijackers.
The five men to be tried, including Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Mustafa al Hawsawi, and Ammar al-Baluchi, Mohammed’s nephew, were captured in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003. The Times noted that the men were charged during the Bush administration, but Barack Obama impeded the process and suspended the war court so more protections for due process could be added. Over 30 pretrial hearing sessions have been held to discuss issues of law and evidence.
As John Ryan noted at Lawdragon.com, the first judge to preside over the case was Army Col. James Pohl; he lasted six years, and banned the U.S. government from using statements the five defendants made to FBI agents in 2007. He was succeeded by Marine Col. Keith Parrella, who disliked Pohl’s decision and said that defense teams should file motions to suppress the FBI statements. Parella’s decision reversing Pohl has been challenged by defense attorneys; Cohen, who is not Jewish but Mormon, will have to decide which way to rule. Ryan points out, “Cohen has never presided over a death penalty case, nor even a multi-defendant case …”
Asra Q. Nomani, a friend of Daniel Pearl, the Jewish journalist for the Wall Street Journal who was murdered by Mohammed, wrote in the Washingtonian, ” .. in March 2007, the US government released a transcript of a military hearing at Guantánamo in which KSM again admitted to murdering Danny. ‘I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan,’ KSM said. ‘For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the internet holding his head.'”
Nomani also reported that Army colonel Robert Swann, an attorney for the military commission, reading the criminal charges against Mohammed, stated, “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others trained the non-pilot hijackers . . . how to slit passengers’ throats by making the hijackers practice on sheep, goats, and camels in preparation for the ‘Planes Operation.'”