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White House hopes for 9/11 trial in NY

world Updated: Feb 01, 2010 00:34 IST
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White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Sunday that the accused author of the 9/11 attacks would "meet his maker" after being convicted, and said the US administration still hopes the trial can be held on American soil.

Self-confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, "is going to meet justice and he's going to meet his maker," Gibbs told CNN television.

"He will be brought to justice, and he's likely to be executed for the heinous crimes he committed," President Barack Obama's spokesman said.

Gibbs said the White House is still hoping to bring Sheikh Muhammed and other alleged plotters of the September 11 attacks to trial in New York, despite recent reservations expressed by officials there.

"We are talking with the authorities in New York," he said.

"We understand their logistical concerns and their security concerns that are involved. We have been discussing that with them."

The Obama administration had hoped to prosecute the self-described mastermind of the 2001 attacks, and his four co-defendants, in a federal court in lower Manhattan, not far from site of the World Trade Center attack that destroyed the Twin Towers and left some 3,000 people dead.

But New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who initially welcomed the White House plan, abruptly reversed his stance last week, saying he would prefer a different location because of the high cost of holding the trial.

He was joined by other New York elected officials, including Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who said last week he was pressing the White House "to find suitable alternatives."

Gibbs said Sunday that the administration was hoping to get them to reconsider.

"As you know, they were originally supportive of this," he told CNN's "State of the Union" program.

"We want to see this man tried and brought to justice in the place in which the crime was committed," Gibbs said.

"We will work with them and come to a solution that we think will bring about justice for those that lost loved ones on such a horrific day on 9/11."

Meanwhile, Obama's top political adviser, David Axelrod said the White House was still deliberating the trial venue issue, but stressed Obama's determination to bring the suspects to trial.

"The President believes... that we ought to bring Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and all others who are involved in terrorist acts to justice swift and sure -- in the American justice system," Axelrod told NBC television.

Republicans have been adamant in opposing a US mainland trial for the September 11 suspects, arguing it would become a "show trial" and a recruitment tool for Al-Qaeda.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN a trial in New York was "dangerous nonsense."

"What we need to do is deny these people a show trial," he said.

"We have a way to do it... interrogate them, and detain them, and try them in military commissions. They cannot escape."

McConnell was asked if he was prepared to financially thwart the administration's attempts to try the suspects on the US mainland.

"Yes, absolutely. I think that will be done on a bipartisan basis. Whatever the domestic support they had for this is collapsing," he said.