The chief suspect in the attacks that changed the world will spend another anniversary in Guantánamo. His own lawyer says he may die before he is tried
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused “architect” of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, will spend the 16th anniversary of the atrocity sitting in Guantánamo Bay, preparing for his 25th pre-trial hearing.
THAT HEARING WILL TAKE PLACE NEXT MONTH. MILITARY PROSECUTORS’ LATEST ESTIMATE IS THAT JURY SELECTION IN MOHAMMED’S TERRORISM TRIAL WILL BEGIN IN JANUARY 2019. MOST INTERESTED EXPERTS THINK THAT IS WILDLY OPTIMISTIC, AND ARE ASKING IF A MAN ARRESTED IN PAKISTAN IN 2003 WILL EVER STAND TRIAL AT ALL.
“It will take another two, three or four years to get the case to trial and it will take a year or so to try,” the 53-year-old’s lawyer, David Nevin, told the Guardian.
Nevin estimated there would likely follow an initial appeal that could take five years, then that appeal going up to the circuit court – another three or four years – and, maybe four years after that, a conclusion in the US supreme court up to 18 years from now – 34 years after the attacks.
“There’s every possibility that my client will die in prison before this process is completed,” said Nevin.
“I don’t have the life expectancy statistics of someone in a US prison, also taking into account it would be someone who’s been tortured, but I’m sure it’s lower than normal. So you have to ask, why exactly are we doing this, or doing it in this way? We are spending millions and millions of [public] dollars every week for something that could be pointless.”
Terry McDermott, a co-author of the book The Hunt for KSM, attended Mohammed’s 24th pre-trial hearing last month.
“KSM already looks like he’s 83, he’s like a little old man,” he said. “He still has black eyebrows and he dyes his beard with henna but his hair is completely white. It’s that vision of the banality of evil.”
A SMALL GROUP OF RELATIVES OF THOSE WHO DIED ON 9/11 ALSO ATTENDED THE AUGUST HEARING. THE CASE, HANDLED BY A MILITARY TRIBUNAL, SEEMED AS FAR FROM CONCLUSION AS EVER. THE DEFENSE IS CAMPAIGNING TO HAVE THE JUDGE AND PROSECUTORS DISQUALIFIED, ACCUSING THEM OF SECRETLY ALLOWING THE DISMANTLING OF ONE OF AMERICA’S OVERSEAS COVERT “BLACK SITES” WHERE MOHAMMED IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN PERSISTENTLY TORTURED, THUS DESTROYING VITAL EVIDENCE. THE PROSECUTION IS SEEKING THE DEATH PENALTY, WHICH THE DEFENSE BITTERLY OPPOSES.
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KHALID SHEIKH MOHAMMED TORTURED BY THE C.I.A. DURING OVER A DECADE (2013)
Confined to the basement of a CIA secret prison in Romania about a decade ago, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, asked his jailers whether he could embark on an unusual project: Would the spy agency allow Mohammed, who had earned his bachelor's in mechanical engineering, to design a vacuum cleaner?
The agency officer in charge of the prison called CIA headquarters and a manager approved the request, a former senior CIA official told The Associated Press.
MOHAMMED HAD ENDURED THE MOST BRUTAL OF THE CIA'S HARSH INTERROGATION METHODS AND HAD CONFESSED TO A CAREER OF ATROCITIES. But the agency had no long-term plan for him. Someday, he might prove useful. Perhaps, he'd even stand trial one day. And for that, he'd need to be sane.
"WE DIDN'T WANT THEM TO GO NUTS", THE FORMER SENIOR CIA OFFICIAL SAID, ONE OF SEVERAL WHO SPOKE ON CONDITION OF ANONYMITY BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT AUTHORIZED TO TALK ABOUT THE NOW-SHUTTERED CIA PRISONS OR MOHAMMED'S INTEREST IN VACUUMS.
So, using schematics from the Internet as his guide, Mohammed began re-engineering one of the most mundane of household appliances.
That the CIA may be in possession of the world's most highly-classified vacuum cleaner blueprints is but one peculiar, lasting byproduct of the controversial U.S. detention and interrogation program.
BY THE CIA'S OWN ACCOUNT, THE PROGRAM'S METHODS WERE "DESIGNED TO PSYCHOLOGICALLY 'DISLOCATE' " PEOPLE. BUT ONCE INTERROGATIONS STOPPED, THE AGENCY HAD TO TRY TO UNDO THE PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE INFLICTED ON THE DETAINEES.