WASHINGTON – The Guantanamo Bay military courts will again be the venue for trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other accused plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, more than two years after U.S. President Barack Obama suspended their cases there, Vancouver Sun reports.
Announcing the decision Monday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the administration remained committed to closing the detention camps at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, but blamed the U.S. Congress for passing legislation that effectively prevents trials of Guantanamo detainees on the U.S. mainland.
“We were prepared to bring a powerful case against the 9/11 defendants in Federal Court and, had this case proceeded as planned, I’m confident our justice system would have performed with the same distinction that has been its hallmark for more than 200 years,” Holder said. “Unfortunately, members of Congress have intervened and imposed restrictions blocking the administration from bringing any Guantanamo detainees to trial in the U.S.”
The announcement marks the latest retreat of the Obama administration from pledges the U.S. president made during his inauguration week in January 2009 to overhaul the way the U.S. prosecuted terror suspects under the administration of former president George W. Bush.
Holder announced in November 2009 that the five accused 9/11 plotters would be taken out of the Guantanamo system and tried in a Federal Court just blocks from where the felled World Trade Center stood in New York. At that news conference, he said Canadian-born terror suspect Omar Khadr and four other accused terrorists would remain in the Guantanamo system. But opposition quickly grew to New York being a venue for what would be the biggest terror trial the U.S. could hold as long as al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his immediate lieutenants remain at large.