Mohammed and his four co-defendants are being prosecuted in a special military tribunal for war-time offenses known as a military commission. They were arraigned May 5 on charges that include terrorism, conspiracy and 2,976 counts of murder in violation of the law of war, one count for each known victim of the Sept. 11 attacks at the time the charges were filed. They could get the death penalty if convicted.
Mohammed, a Pakistani citizen who grew up in Kuwait and attended college in North Carolina, has told military officials that he planned the Sept. 11 attacks ‘‘from A to Z’’ and was involved in about 30 other terrorist plots. He has said, among other things, that he personally beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The other defendants are Ramzi Binalshibh; Walid bin Attash; Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi; and Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali.
Their arraignment was an unruly, 13-hour proceeding in which the defendants stalled proceedings by refusing the use the court translation system and ignoring the judge. Subsequent hearings to handle pretrial motions were postponed because of scheduling conflicts, the Muslim holy period of Ramadan and Tropical Storm Isaac. Several more pretrial hearings must be held to litigate hundreds of motions before the start of the trial, which is likely at least a year away.