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United States v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad et al.

Court Military Commission, United States
Decision title decision not yet available
  • Chief Prosecutor
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
  • Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin ‘Attash
  • Ali Abdul Aziz Ali
  • Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi
Other names
  • 9/11 Case
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (2)
Categories War crimes
Keywords destruction of property, Murder, Terrorism
Other countries involved
  • Afghanistan
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Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a Pakistani of Kuwait birth, is the self-confessed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the United States which claimed the lives of nearly 3000 people.

Captured in Pakistan in 2003, he has been in United States custody, most recently at Guantanamo Bay, ever since. Mohammed, along with four other 9/11 planners, were charged and tried before a United States Military Commission in 2008 until charges were dropped in 2010. Following a failed attempt to transfer the five co-defendants to new York to stand trial before a civilian federal court, they were indicted once again in February 2011. Their trial is currently underway before the Military Commission at Guantanamo Bay.

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Procedural history

On 1 March 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in hiding in Pakistan and transferred to US custody.

In September 2006, he was transferred from a secret prison to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay (see NPR, 'Bush Concedes CIA Ran Secret Prisons Abroad', 6 September 2006). On 10 March 2007, Khalid appeared before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal. Khalid alleged that he had been subject to mistreatment rising to the level of torture by the US authorities whilst in detention. During his statement, he confessed to responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and for a number of other terrorist operations (transcript available here).

On 11 February 2008, Khalid and the other four accused were charged with almost 3000 counts of murder, terrorism, material support for terrorism and plane hijacking for their involvement in the 9/11 attacks. The trial began on 5 June 2008 but charges were dropped by the Pentagon on 21 January 2010. See Idaho Statesman, 'Pentagon Drops Charges against 9/11 Plotters, Clearing Way for Civilian Trial', 22 January 2010; amd FOX News, 'Charges Withdrawn in Military Commissions for Sept. 11 Suspects', 22 January 2010.

The five accused were to be tried before a civilian federal court in New York. Following the enactment of the National Defense Authorisation Act on 7 January 2011 by President Obama, the administration was barred from trying Guantanamo Bay detainees in civilian courts. On 4 April 2011, the Attorney General announced that the five defendants would face military trial (see CNN, 'Accused 9/11 Terror Suspects to Face Military Trials', 5 April 2011). On 31 May 2011, Khalid and the other four accused were charged by the Criminal Investigation Task Force with conspiracy to commit terrorism, terrorism, attacking civilians and civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, war crimes and hijacking an aircraft for their involvement in the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

On 6 December 2012, the military judge ordered that the accused are prohibited from bringing up their alleged torture whilst in detention at Guantanamo Bay during the course of their trial (see the Protective Order and the Ruling).

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Related developments

On 20 February 2014, a US judge allowed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to answer written questions from Sulaiman Abu Ghaith (Osama bin Laden's son-in-law) his lawyers at his New York City terrorism trial, scheduled for March 2014.

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Legally relevant facts

The indictment alleges that, in 1996, Khalid Sheikh Mohgammed met with Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan and planned an operation involving the hijack of commercial airliners and crashing them into buildings in the United States and elsewhere (p. 1, Sworn Charges). In or around November 1999, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed assisted Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin ‘Attash to learn about flying airplanes (p. 2). In 1999, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed requested and received funding for the 9/11 operation from Usama bin Laden (p. 3). Throughout 1999 and 2000, Bin ‘Attash and other Al Qaeda operatives carried out a number of reconnaissance flights in order to inform themselves about flight security and US carriers (pp. 3-4). A number of financial transactions were made by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ali Abdul Aziz Ali to Al Qaeda operatives involved in preparations for the 9/11 attacks (pp. 4-7). From September 2000, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed coordinated the non-pilot hijackers to obtain clean passports and then travel to Dubai, where they would await final travel to the United States (p. 9). Mustafa al Hawsawi purchased plane tickets for the hijackers and provided them with clothing, food, lodging, rental cars etc. (p. 11).

The attacks were carried out on 11 September 2001 causing the deaths of nearly 3000 people (pp. 16-17).

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Paragraph 950t (2), (3), (13), (15), (16), (23), (24), (29) of Title 10 of the US Code.

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Further analysis

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Instruments cited

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Additional materials

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