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Fresh charges filed against 9/11 accused

Last updated on: June 01, 2011 17:55 IST

United States prosecutors have slapped new charges of terrorism and murder against 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators to allow their prosecution before a military commission at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

The charges against Mohammed and the others allege that they planned the 9/11 attacks that sent hijacked commercial airliners slamming into New York's World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, leaving nearly 3,000 people dead.

The charges, filed by a military commission, could pave the way for their arraignment. The move comes after the Obama administration dropped plans to prosecute the suspects in federal court in New York.

Attorney General Eric Holder wanted to prosecute 9/11 plotters in New York City but the proposal met with great resistance from New Yorkers, especially because of the potential safety hazard it could prove to be since the trials could last for years.

Other suspects accused of planning the 9/11 attacks are Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi.

All five are at Guantanamo. They share eight charges, which are 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, hijacking aircraft and terrorism.

The filing of capital charges means the defendants could face death sentences if convicted.

Mohammed was first charged in May 2008 before a military commission in Guantanamo, but the charges were suspended in early 2009 when the Obama administration took over and sought a fresh review of all detainees at Guantanamo.

Later that year, Holder announced Mohammed and several other key terror suspects would face prosecution in the military justice system. The last military execution was in 1961, involving a US Army private who had been convicted of rape and attempted murder of an Austrian girl, CNN reported.

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