The family members of one of the 3,000 victims who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are still wondering, 20 years later, when a verdict will be delivered in the case of September 11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Don Arias watched the start of Mohammed’s trial from behind thick glass with his sister in 2009 at Guantanamo golf course in Cuba. He recalls lawyers arguing over whether the accused terrorist received the cushion he requested for a bus ride from prison to the courthouse, he told Fox News.
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“They started arguing over a pillow,” Arias recalls. “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s lawyer said that he requested a cushion for the van ride from the detention center to the courtroom, and that he did not receive this question. they went back and forth arguing over a cushion for the van ride. And my sister looks at me and says, ‘3,000 people are dead, and they’re arguing over a pillow.’ And she got up and walked out. “
Arias and his sister, Lorraine, lost their brother, Adam, on September 11, when he died trying to help people exit the south tower of the World Trade Center, where he worked on the 84th floor. Lorraine has also since died of COVID-19. Mohammed survived the two siblings.
The alleged 9/11 planner and four other Gitmo detainees appeared in court together on Tuesday for the first time in 500 days to preliminary sections after the delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The hearings, which resumed on Wednesday, nearly 20 years after the attacks, are the latest attempt to move forward a case that has been stuck for years in the midst of legal challenges.
Arias described his brother, who he said he spoke to almost every day during his lifetime, as a “wonderful guy” who believed in “prosperity and good work”.
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“All the guy wanted to do was get on with his life, and he’s caught up in this war because we have some crazy stuff that some crazy people in the world [think] who call themselves al-Qaeda, which, of course, turns into other things. The Haqqani network and the Taliban are all the same, frankly. And now we have 3,000 dead, ”he said.
Arias remembers calling his brother after seeing the North Tower hit and telling him to come home.
“Knowing what I knew, which was very little at the time, my last words to him… I said, ‘Go home,'” said the Air Force veteran. “… And later my brother was killed when Tower 2 fell.… He had been hanging around helping people… So you know he died with his boots on. I was very proud of the way he lived. , and in a weird and funny way, at least I’m proud of the way he died because he died in the service of other people. “
To speed up the trial, the veteran suggested that officials involved in the case stay in Gitmo during the proceedings to eliminate the inconvenience of travel that accumulates time and high costs. Families are tired of waiting for a trial and a verdict, he said.
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Mohammed and his four other co-defendants are charged with several crimes, including terrorism, hijacking and 2,976 counts of murder for their alleged role in planning and providing logistical support to the plot. September 11th.
The quintet has been held at Guantanamo Bay since September 2006, after several years spent in clandestine CIA detention centers after their capture.
Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew McCall, the last and seventh different judge assigned to the case, told the courtroom on Wednesday that the death penalty is a “valid option” for the five prisoners of the 11 September and that he “may be a righteous judge.”
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Arias said those involved in the military tribunal and Mohammed’s case “cannot forget” the nearly 3,000 US citizens killed on September 11 as the nation approaches 20 years after the attacks.
“We just can’t forget the people.… And we say, ‘Oh, never forget’… but we forgot. Plus we don’t care anymore, as evidenced by our exit from Afghanistan,” a he declared. “So I don’t want to hear ‘never forget’ from this administration at all.”
Lucas Tomlinson and Vandana Rambaran of Fox News contributed to this report, as well as the Associated Press.