Home / World

9/11 terror suspect won't be allowed to testify, judge rules

By Agencies in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2014-03-20 07:43

A US judge ruled on Tuesday that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - the United States' highest-profile terror detainee - will not be allowed to testify in a New York courtroom to defend Osama bin Laden's son-in-law.

"I have considered this very carefully. It's much ado about nothing. It's not admissible," Judge Lewis Kaplan told the southern district court in Manhattan.

The trial concerns Suleiman Abu Ghaith, who married bin Laden's daughter Fatima and now faces charges of conspiracy to kill US citizens, conspiracy to support terrorists and supporting terrorists.

The 48-year-old from Kuwait denies the charges. He faces life imprisonment if convicted by a jury at the trial, which is expected to conclude within days.

His defense lawyers extracted 14 pages of written testimony from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed disputing key elements of the prosecution's case. Mohammed is being held at Guantanamo Bay accused of masterminding the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept 11, 2001.

Mohammed had claimed Abu Ghaith never played a military role in al-Qaida and had nothing to do with a 2001 plot to bomb a transatlantic US passenger jet.

He refused to testify by audio or video-link from the US military prison, but government prosecutors said even a deposition would be irrelevant and prejudicial.

9/11 terror suspect won't be allowed to testify, judge rules

Kaplan, who at one point asked whether he had the right to subpoena Mohammed, ruled there was "nothing at all" in the 14 pages that would be admissible.

"The application is denied. It is in my view baseless, entirely baseless," the judge told the court.

Kaplan said there was no evidence that Abu Ghaith ever met Mohammed, nor that the two had any dealings on the Dec 2001 shoe bomb plot, hatched in Afghanistan at a time when Mohammed may have been in Pakistan.

Suspect evidence

"There is not even evidence in this document that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was in the same country as the defendant during the relevant period," Kaplan said.

"Does he address what Suleiman Abu Ghaith knew or didn't know? He doesn't touch it. Not even with a 10-foot pole," he added.

The document was passed to Abu Ghaith's lawyers on March 13 and contains Mohammed's responses to written questions. However, the document was vetted by US intelligence before it was handed over.

Mohammed wrote that he wanted to help Abu Ghaith but was distrustful of the source of the questions posed to him, saying they reminded him of interrogations he underwent after his 2003 capture.

According to a BBC report, after his capture by US and Pakistani forces in 2003, Mohammed was tortured at a CIA "black site" and was subjected to "waterboarding" - a technique that simulates drowning - 183 times in one month.

According to another BBC report, the US department of defense claimed that after being interrogated Mohammed admitted to involvement in 31 terror attacks, including masterminding the 9/11 attack.

In 2009, US President Barack Obama banned the use of waterboarding during interrogations, stating that the technique qualifies as torture.

In 2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron challenged the effectiveness of waterboarding as a means of obtaining information on terror activities. He said any information gathered using torture was "very likely to be unreliable", according to British newspaper The Guardian.

Abu Ghaith is most famous for appearing in a video with bin Laden the day after the 9/11 attacks. The prosecution says he was hired to recruit young men all over the world for al Qaeda.

The defense argues that, while Abu Ghaith made incendiary remarks, he did not conspire to kill US citizens and was not involved in the shoe bomb plot.

Abu Ghaith is the highest-profile alleged member of al-Qaida to face trial in a US federal court rather than at Guantanamo Bay, which the White House has promised to close.

US prosecutors say Abu Ghaith worked for al-Qaida until 2002, when he fled Afghanistan for Iran. He was captured in 2013 and brought from Jordan to the US.


(China Daily 03/20/2014 page10)

Today's Top News

Editor's picks

Most Viewed

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349