GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks, and other suspected terrorists linked to major attacks against the United States are expected to face hearings at the Guantánamo prison camp within three months, a military official said yesterday.
Fourteen ``high-value" detainees -- including an alleged would-be Sept. 11 hijacker, the suspected plotter of the USS Cole bombing, and the suspected coordinator of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania -- will be invited to appear at hearings, held to determine whether they're enemy combatants, said Navy Captain Phil Waddingham, director of the Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants.
Detainees can refuse to appear, but the tribunals, which are held in small rooms inside a prefab building, will be held regardless, Waddingham told reporters.
Mohammed and the 13 other detainees were recently transferred from CIA custody to this isolated US Navy base in southeast Cuba.
Army Brigadier General Edward A. Leacock, the deputy commander of Guantánamo, said the 14 new detainees are being treated humanely.
``They're all adapting well to their new environment," Leacock told reporters at the base, adding that they're fed three times a day, have recreational activities available, and have opportunities to pray five times per day.
They have been given materials to write letters, which will be given to the Red Cross for mailing after they have been censored by the military, Leacock said. The Red Cross said in Geneva yesterday that they will visit the 14 new detainees next week.
Waddingham told reporters visiting Guantánamo that preparations were being made for the Combatant Status Review Tribunal for the detainees. Every one of the other roughly 450 detainees at Guantánamo, who began arriving in 2002, has already undergone the tribunals. The tribunals for the 14 arrivals would almost certainly use the same procedures, Waddingham said.
The tribunals are conducted by a three-member military panel, which examines evidence against a detainee, can speak to witnesses, and determines whether the detainee is an enemy combatant and should be held. The detainee is represented by US military counsel. Those judged not to be enemy combatants are generally transferred out of Guantánamo to their home countries. Those determined to be enemy combatants stay locked up there.