September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed facing death penalty

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators were referred by President Barack Obama’s administration to a military tribunal at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

In what has frequently been trailed as “the trial of the century”, they will soon stand accused of committing multiple counts of terrorism, hijacking and murder in violation of the law of war by devising the era-defining attacks on the American mainland.

“The charges allege that the five accused are responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington DC, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, resulting in the killing of 2,976 people,” the Defence Department announced in a statement.

The full extent of their alleged crimes are detailed in an 88-page dossier listing every victim of the attacks by name. The charges were referred to a capital military commission, meaning that “if convicted, the five accused could be sentenced to death,” the department said.

Mohammed, a 46-year-old Kuwaiti long known by US officials as “KSM”, has been held at the base’s Camp Delta prison for the past six years. He is alleged to have confessed that he was he “was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z” after extensive interrogation.

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American intelligence agencies spooked by Britain’s open courts

The CIA warned MI6 that al-Qaeda was planning an attack 18 months ago, but withheld detailed information because of concerns it would be released by British courts.

British intelligence agencies were subsequently forced to carry out their own investigations, according to Whitehall sources.

Several potential terrorists were identified with links to a wider European plot, but it is still not known whether the British authorities have uncovered the full extent of the threat.

The breakdown in relations came after the release of US intelligence in the case of Binyam Mohamed, a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who took legal action over his incarceration. The Government was subsequently forced to pay millions in compensation to him and other detainees.

Conservative ministers are proposing establishing a system of “secret justice” to allow sensitive intelligence to be heard in British courts behind closed doors, but are facing mounting opposition from the Liberal Democrats.

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