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September 11 suspects likely to be tried at Guantanamo

Obama has caved in to opposition to trying September 11 suspects in the US, and will allow trials to resume at Guantanamo – which he had pledged to close within a year of taking office.

Day breaks over Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay
Day breaks over Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay
Image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

THE US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has rowed back on an order he made two years ago halting the trial of military suspects at Guantanamo, opening the way for September 11 suspects to be tried there.

The alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is one of those whose trial is likely to take place at the Cuban military base.

Obama’s order has reignited arguments over the legality of the military commissions, despite ongoing US efforts to reform the hotly debated system.

The US President appears to have succumbed to fierce congressional opposition to trying Mohammed and other Guantanamo detainees in the United States – and has forced him to retreat from his promise to shut the military prison down.

The first Guantanamo trial likely to proceed under Obama’s new order would involve Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Al-Nashiri, a Saudi of Yemeni descent, has been imprisoned at the Cuban base since 2006.

Defense officials have said that of around 170 detainees at Guantanamo, about 80 are expected to face trial by military commission.

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Yesterday, the White House reiterated its commitment to eventually close Guantanmo — which is on a U.S. Navy base on an isolated corner of Cuba — and said this week’s actions were in pursuit of that goal.

- AP

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Jennifer O'Connell

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