(WASHINGTON) — Terrorism charges were referred Wednesday against 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others, restarting the process to have them tried before a military tribunal.
The terrorist known among intelligence officials as KSM faces a myriad of counts, including terrorism, hijacking an aircraft, conspiracy, murder and attacking civilians, according to a statement from the Department of Defense. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania plane crash on Sept. 11, 2001.
In addition to Mohammed, Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi will all be tried by military tribunal and face the death penalty if convicted. They will be arraigned at the Guantanamo Bay prison within 30 days, the Defense Department said.
This is the second time the charges against Mohammed and his co-conspirators have been referred. Nearly four years ago the Obama administration decided to halt the military process to explore trying the suspects in civilian court, rather than a military tribunal.
After years of political wrangling between the administration and Congress, the case was transferred back to the military commission last year.
Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters then that despite the decision, he still believed a civilian court would have been the best mechanism for the men to face justice.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been critical of Guantanamo Bay and the military commission process, blasted Wednesday’s announcement, calling it a terrible mistake that promotes “second-tier justice” that undermines the U.S. justice system.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire