The decade's most triggering comedy
The Pentagon and FBI have alerted several of the grieving families who lost relatives in the deadly 9/11 attack in which nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered that the suspected architect of the attacks and his fellow defendants may have their death sentences overturned through plea deals.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — who suggested the 9/11 attacks to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and then planned the attacks — and four other terrorists have been incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay detention center for years, while repeated delays and legal disputes have postponed the death penalty being applied. No trial date has been set.
“The Office of the Chief Prosecutor has been negotiating and is considering entering into pre-trial agreements,” the August 1 letter sent to the families stated. It stated that although no plea deal has “been finalized, and may never be finalized, it is possible that a PTA in this case would remove the possibility of the death penalty.”
The families were given until Monday, August 21, to respond to the FBI’s victim services division with any comments or questions about the matter.
Some relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed outright in the terror attacks expressed outrage over the prospect of ending the case short of a verdict. The military prosecutors pledged to take their views into consideration and present them to the military authorities who would make the final decision on accepting any plea agreement.
Jim Riches, a retired deputy fire chief whose son Jimmy was a firefighter who died as a result of the 9/11 attacks, emitted a bitter laugh when he received the letter. “How can you have any faith in it?” he said, adding, “Those guys are still alive. Our children are dead.”
Former President George W. Bush established the prison and court system at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 following the 9/11/2001 attacks. Former President Barack Obama promised to close the center; during his administration, the number of prisoners was reduced from roughly 250 to 41. Republicans in Congress blocked Obama’s move to close the detention center.
In early 2021, President Biden declared he would close the facility.
In the 9/11 attacks, 2,606 people were reported murdered in the World Trade Center and on the ground. At least 125 people working at the Pentagon were killed; 265 people were killed aboard the four planes used in the attacks, including eight children.
Medical authorities concluded by August 2013, that 1,140 people who worked, lived, or studied in Lower Manhattan had been diagnosed with cancer as a result of “exposure to toxins at Ground Zero” and the number would grow.