Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, and four accused co-conspirators will be tried by a military commission at Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
The five men were charged with crimes that carry the death penalty -- the alleged planning and execution of the deadliest attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 2001 attacks.
In addition to Mohammed, the others charged Wednesday are Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi. They will be arraigned within 30 days at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. miltary base and prison in Cuba where all five are being detained.
The Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions referred the terrorism charges to a panel and will select a military judge to preside over a single trial of the five defendants.
These charges represent the second attempt to convict the accused 9/11 conspirators. After promising as a candidate in 2008 to shut down Guantanamo Bay, President Barack Obama removed the case from the military's jurisdiction. The White House attempted to have the men tried in a federal court in Manhattan -- less than a mile from the site of the World Trade Center, whose twin towers fell after being hit by hijacked airplanes in the 2001 attacks.
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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dropped that plan and sent the case back the military after the White House drew angry complaints about security and logistical problems that would accompany a major terrorism trial in New York City.
Each defendant faces charges of terrorism, aircraft hijacking, conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians and civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury and destruction of property in violation of the law of war.
Each of the five accused have been provided, in addition to their detailed defense counsel, learned counsel, possessing specialized knowledge and experience in death penalty cases, to assist them in their defense, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The Pentagon released a detailed account of the charges and allegations against the five accused plotters, as well as a list of the 9/11 victims: