The pretrial hearings of suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accused of conspiring in the attacks are set to resume this week at Guantanamo Bay following a year and a half pause because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The hearings – which are expected to be mostly administrative matters with the defendants unlikely to speak all week – are the latest attempt to advance a case that has been bogged down for years over legal challenges.
“The United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarek Bin ‘Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Ramzi Bin al Shibh, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi Pre-Trial Hearing is scheduled for September 7th to the 17th at the Expeditionary Legal Complex at Camp Justice on Naval Station Guantanamo Bay,” a Defense Department official told Fox News on Monday.
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“The accused are charged jointly, in connection with their alleged roles in the September 11, 2001, attacks against the United States,” the official added. “They are charged with committing the following offenses: conspiracy; attacking civilians; intentionally causing serious bodily injury; murder in violation of the law of war; hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft; and terrorism.”
Legal challenges largely revolving around what evidence can be used at an eventual trial have delayed the case from unfolding. The effort has also been beset by the logistical difficulty of trying to hold proceedings in a specially designed courtroom on the isolated U.S base.
In part, the prosecution’s case in the 9/11 attacks rests on statements that the defendants — who include Mohammad, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks — gave to the FBI after they were transferred by the CIA to the military at Guantanamo in September 2006.
Attash is accused of training two of the hijackers in hand-to-hand combat, while Al Shibh is suspected of organizing the Hamburg, Germany cell of hijackers and providing financial assistance to Mohammed Atta and others responsible for taking over the planes, amongst other allegations, according to the New York Times.
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There have been more than 40 rounds of pretrial hearings since the five detainees were arraigned in May 2012. The estimated start date for what would likely be a lengthy trial before a jury of military officers also has been repeatedly put off.
The Biden administration has said it intends to close Guantanamo after a review of operations, but has not publicly released details about when or how that will happen.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.