KSM on trial in Guantanamo?
9/11 Blogger | March 7, 2007
WASHINGTON: The alleged masterminds behind the September 11 and Bali bomb attacks will be among 14 "high-value detainees" to face hearings at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay tomorrow.
The hearings are believed to be the first for the men, including suspected 9/11 planner Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the Indonesian known as Hambali - who is accused of planning the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians - since they were seized by the US military.
No reporters or other outside observers such as defence lawyers would be allowed to attend the hearings to determine whether the men were enemy combatants, US officials said.
"We will commence with the combatant status review tribunals for the 14 high-value detainees that came into DoD (Department of Defence) custody in September, commencing this Friday," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
"We will provide transcripts, with necessary redactions for national security, to you so that you can follow the proceedings that took place."
The 14 were held in secret CIA prisons for up to four years before being transferred to Guantanamo in September. Questions have repeatedly been raised about whether the 14 were tortured while in CIA detention.
The prison camp at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay holds about 385 suspects accused of fighting for al-Qa'ida, the Taliban or associated Islamist militant movements.
Indefinite detention and allegations of mistreatment at Guantanamo, which the US military denies, have tarnished the image of the US abroad. Many countries, including US allies, have called for the camp to be closed.
Lawyers for some of the Guantanamo prisoners said in an appeal to the US Supreme Court yesterday that the suspects had been unlawfully detained for more than five years and deserved at least a hearing to challenge their confinement.
They argued that a US appeals court was wrong in a ruling last month that upheld a key part of an anti-terrorism law sought by President George W. Bush that took away the rights of the prisoners to challenge their detention before US federal judges.
Australian terror suspect David Hicks, 31, has been charged with providing material support for terrorism.
It is expected he will make his first appearance before the military commission at at Guantanamo Bay this month.
Hicks has been in US custody for more than five years after being picked up on the Afghanistan battlefield in December 2001.
It is alleged Hicks trained and fought with al-Qa'ida against US and coalition troops in Afghanistan.