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Military Proceeds With Guantanamo Trial Of Sept. 11 Mastermind

The U.S. military announced today that it was ready to proceed with the war crimes tribunal of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo prisoners suspected of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attack on the United States.

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports this is important because it means that Mohammed must be arraigned within 30 days. This step is basically a military grand jury agreeing that there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial.

The AP reports that the charges against Mohammed and the four others include terrorism and murder and if convicted, they could face the death penalty.

Reuters adds:

"President Barack Obama halted the previous trial and wanted them prosecuted in civilian court. Congress opposed the move and the administration was forced to shift it back to Guantanamo."

Update at 2:19 p.m. ET. 'A Terrible Mistake':

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero called the Obama administration's decision to move forward with these trials in Guantanamo a "terrible mistake."

"Whatever verdict comes out of the Guantánamo military commissions will be tainted by an unfair process and the politics that wrongly pulled these cases from federal courts, which have safely and successfully handled hundreds of terrorism trials," Romero said in a statement.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.