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Khalid Sheikh Mohammed appears on 2,976 murder charges over 9/11

Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators appeared in public for the first time in more than three years today.

The World Trade Center towers on fire after the planes hit
The World Trade Center towers on fire after the planes hit
Image: Diane Bondareff/AP/Press Association Images

THE SELF-PROCLAIMED mastermind of the September 11 attacks and four accused co-conspirators appeared in public for the first time in more than three years today – facing charges including 2,976 counts of murder.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-defendants were being arraigned at a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay as US officials started a second attempt at what is likely to be a drawn out legal battle that could lead to the men’s executions.

In the past, during the failed first effort to prosecute them at the US base in Cuba, Mohammed has mocked the tribunal and said he and his co-defendants would plead guilty and welcome execution.

But there were signs that at least some of the defence teams were preparing for a lengthy fight, planning challenges of the military tribunals and the secrecy that shrouds the case.

The arraignment is “only the beginning of a trial that will take years to complete, followed by years of appellate review,” attorney James Connell, who represents defendant Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, told reporters at the base.

A handful of people who lost family members in the attacks were selected by lottery to travel to the base to watch the proceedings. Other family members were gathering at military bases in New York and across the East Coast to watch the proceedings live on closed-circuit video.

Bereaved

Cliff Russell, whose firefighter brother Stephen died responding to the World Trade Center, said he hoped the case would end with the death penalty for the five Guantanamo prisoners.

“I’m not looking forward to ending someone else’s life and taking satisfaction in it, but it’s the most disgusting, hateful, awful thing I ever could think of if you think about what was perpetrated,” Russell said.

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Suzanne Sisolak of Brooklyn, whose husband Joseph was killed in his office in the trade center’s north tower, said she is not concerned about the ultimate outcome as long as the case moves forward and the five prisoners do not go free.

Mohammed, a Pakistani citizen who grew up in Kuwait and attended college in Greensboro, North Carolina, has admitted to military authorities that he was responsible for the September 11 attacks “from A to Z”.

His four co-defendants include Binalshibh, a Yemeni; Waleed bin Attash, also from Yemen; Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, a Saudi; and al-Aziz Ali, a Pakistani national and nephew of Mohammed.

More: 9/11 suspects set for Guantanamo trial>

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