Five Accused 9/11 Plotters To Face Trial

The United States military has said it is ready to resume the trial of the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 terror attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four other alleged plotters.

The Pentagon said the men will go on trial before a Guantanamo Bay war crimes tribunal and prosecutors will seek the death penalty, if the men are convicted.

Sky's Hannah Thomas-Peter, in Washington, said they now have 30 days within which to arraign, or formally charge, the men.

The five are accused of planning and executing the 2001 hijacked airliner attacks on New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, resulting in the deaths of 2,976 people.

They are charged with terrorism, hijacking aircraft, conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war and other counts.

Defence lawyers were hoping two of the men would be tried separately on non-capital charges, arguing the pair is accused of relatively minor roles.

US President Barack Obama halted the previous trial and wanted them prosecuted in civilian court. Congress opposed the move and the administration was forced to shift it back to Guantanamo Bay .

Mohammed, along with Walid bin Attash of Saudi Arabia, Yemen's Ramzi bin al Shibh, Pakistan's Ali Abd al Aziz Ali - also known as Ammar al Baluchi - and Mustafa al Hawsawi of Saudi Arabia will appear in court within 30 days but the trial may not begin for some months.

Mohammed, who US officials refer to simply as "KSM", has been at the centre of lengthy debate over how and where to prosecute the accused plotters.

The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the decision to proceed with a military trial.

"The Obama administration is making a terrible mistake by prosecuting the most important terrorism trials of our time in a second-tier system of justice," ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement.

After Mohammed was captured nine years ago, he was subjected to harsh interrogations and repeatedly " waterboarding ", a simulated drowning technique that has been widely condemned as torture.

His treatment in US custody has raised questions over whether his statements to interrogators will hold up in a trial, but testimony from a former aide may resolve that problem.

His former deputy, Majid Khan, accepted a plea deal recently with US authorities that will require him to testify against other terror suspects, including the alleged 9/11 plotters.

Mr Obama initially sought to hold a trial for Mohammed and his four accused accomplices in a civilian court in New York, just steps from the Ground Zero site where the World Trade Centre's twin towers fell in 2001.

But the proposal sparked criticism and Republicans in Congress put an end to those plans by blocking the transfer of terrorism suspects to the US.