The Defense Department announced today that charges against five of the six detainees who are alleged to be responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks upon the United States of America on September 11, 2001 have been referred to trial by military commission. Those attacks resulted in the death of 2,973 people, including 8 children. The referred charges detail 169 overt acts allegedly committed in furtherance of the 9/11 events. The accused will face trial in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In accordance with the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the Convening Authority has the sole discretion to determine what charges will be referred to trial. In exercising her independent judgment, the Convening Authority, Ms. Susan Crawford, has referred to trial charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi. The five accused will be tried jointly, and the cases are referred as capital for each defendant, meaning they face the possibility of being sentenced to death.
The Convening Authority has dismissed without prejudice the sworn charges against Mohamed al Kahtani. Because the charges were dismissed without prejudice, the government has the option of charging Kahtani separately, but he will not be tried with the other accused in this case.
The charges allege a long-term, highly-sophisticated, organized plan by al Qaeda to attack the United States. Each of the accused is charged with conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, terrorism and providing material support for terrorism.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Ali Abdul Aziz Ali are also charged with hijacking aircraft.
The charges allege that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks by proposing the operational concept to Usama bin Laden as early as 1996, obtaining approval and funding from Usama bin Laden for the attacks, overseeing the entire operation, and training the hijackers in all aspects of the operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash is alleged to have administered an al Qaeda training camp in Logar, Afghanistan where two of the September 11th hijackers were trained. He is also alleged to have traveled to Malaysia in 1999 to observe airport security by US air carriers in order to assist in formulating the hijacking plan.
Ramzi Binalshibh is alleged to have lived with the Hamburg, Germany al Qaeda cell where three of the 9/11 hijackers resided. It is alleged that Binalshibh was originally selected by Usama bin Laden to be one of the 9/11 hijackers and that he made a "martyr video" in preparation for the operation. He was unable to obtain a US visa and, therefore, could not enter the United States as the other hijackers did. In light of this, it is alleged that Binalshibh assisted in finding flight schools for the hijackers in the United States, and continued to assist the conspiracy by engaging in numerous financial transactions in support of the 9/11 operation.
Ali Abdul Aziz Ali's role is alleged to have included sending approximately $120,000 to the hijackers for their expenses and flight training, and facilitating travel to the United States for nine of the hijackers.
Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi is alleged to have assisted and prepared the hijackers with money, western clothing, traveler's checks and credit cards. He is also alleged to have facilitated the transfer of thousands of dollars between the accounts of alleged 9/11 hijackers and himself on September 11, 2001.
The military commissions provide the following protections for the accused: to elect not to testify at trial and to have no adverse inference drawn from it; to be represented by detailed military counsel, as well as civilian counsel of his own selection and at no expense to the government; to examine all evidence presented to a jury by the prosecution; to obtain evidence and to call witnesses on his own behalf including expert witnesses; to confront and cross-examine every witness called by the prosecution; to be present during the presentation of evidence; to have no statements obtained by torture admitted; to have a military commission panel (jury) of at least five military members (12 in a capital case) determine guilt or innocence by a two-thirds majority, or in the case of a capital offense, at least 12 members must unanimously decide to impose a sentence of death; and the right to an appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review, then through the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to the U. S. Supreme Court.
These protections are guaranteed to the defendant under the Military Commissions Act, and are specifically designed to ensure that every defendant receives a fair trial, consistent with American and international standards of justice and the rule of law.
The charges are only allegations that each accused has committed a war crime under the Military Commissions Act. The accused are presumed innocent of any criminal charges unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at a military commission.