Top 9/11 suspects to plead guilty

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants have told 
a military judge at Guantanamo Bay they want to confess and plead guilty.

The judge at the pre-trial hearing, Col Stephen Henley, said he would question 
the men to ensure that was their wish.

Mr Mohammed and the others face the death penalty if convicted of a role in 
killing 2,973 people in the attacks.

For the first time, nine relatives of the victims were flown to Cuba by the US 
military to watch the proceedings.

No date has been set for the five men's full military tribunal, and their 
appearance in court on Monday followed hearings held under a judge who resigned 
last month.

The BBC's Jonathan Beale says the hearing started amid an air of uncertainty 
over the future of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, where Mr Mohammed and 
some 250 other terrorism suspects are being held.

US President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close it down amid controversy 
over the inmates' legal status and interrogation techniques used on them.

The planned trial may therefore never go ahead in its current form, our 
correspondent says.

Face to face

More than 100 families who lost loved ones on 11 September 2001 applied by 
lottery for a seat at the pre-trial hearing. Five people were chosen and they 
brought four other relatives with them.

Before the hearing, Maureen Santora, who lost her son Christopher in the 
attacks on New York's Twin Towers, said she hoped to look the defendants in the 

"I hope they stare us in the face and we stare back," she said.

Mr Mohammed has already admitted being responsible "from A to Z" for the 9/11 
attacks on the US, according to the Pentagon.

At a hearing in June, when informed that he faced the death penalty, he said he 
had been looking to "be a martyr for long time".

The Kuwait-born suspect, who was captured in Pakistan in 2003, is conducting 
his own defence.

His co-defendants are:

• Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni described by the US as the co-ordinator of the 
9/11 attacks who, according to intelligence officials, was supposed to be have 
been one of the hijackers, but was unable to get a US visa

• Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, a Saudi man said by US intelligence officials to be 
one of two key financial people used by Mr Mohammed to arrange the funding for 
the 11 September hijackings

• Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, also known as Amar al-Balochi, who is accused of serving 
as a key lieutenant to Mr Mohammed, his uncle

• Walid Bin Attash, a Yemeni national who, according to the Pentagon, has 
admitted masterminding the bombing of the American destroyer USS Cole in Yemen 
in 2000, and is also accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/12/08 15:00:32 GMT


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