Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed says he wants the death sentence. He and four alleged confederates faced a military judge on Thursday in their long-awaited first appearance before a war-crimes tribunal.
Khalid and the other alleged Al Qaeda figures sat at defence tables alongside their lawyers before the judge, Marine Colonel Ralph Kohlmann.
All five wore cream-coloured clothing and turbans, in contrast to the dishevelled hair and T-shirt Khalid wore when he was captured in Pakistan in 2003. He was later held in CIA custody at secret sites and transferred to the US Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2006.
Journalists were allowed to see the proceedings on CCTV in a nearby press room. Other observers including senior American Legion member Fang A. Wong filed into the tightly guarded courthouse to watch the arraignment.
“I’m from the New York area, and I have been waiting for this for a long time,” Wong said as he waited to be searched by soldiers before entering the court complex.
The arraignment of the five detainees, coming seven years after the terror attacks, begins the highest-profile test yet of the controversial tribunal system, which is being challenged before the US Supreme Court. All five face the death penalty if convicted of war crimes including murder, conspiracy, attacking civilians and terrorism.