Guantanamo court date comes for accused Sept. 11 plotters

The military expects a confrontational hearing when the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and four alleged confederates are brought before a Marine colonel presiding over their war-crimes tribunal. During the arraignment Thursday, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will make his first public appearance since he was captured in Pakistan in 2003. He was later held in CIA custody at secret sites and transferred to the US Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2006. Air Force Brig. Gen. Tom Hartmann, a top tribunal official, told dozens of journalists late Wednesday that he expects defense lawyers will robustly argue points with prosecutors and Judge Ralph Kohlmann on behalf of their clients, who face the death penalty. The US Supreme Court struck down the commissions as unconstitutional in 2006 before they were altered and resurrected months later. The tribunals have been mired in confusion over courtroom rules and dogged by delays. The four defendants due to appear with Mohammed are: Ramzi Binalshibh, said to have been the main intermediary between the hijackers and al-Qaida leaders; Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, known as Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew and lieutenant of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; al-Baluchi's assistant, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi; and Waleed bin Attash, a detainee known as Khallad, who allegedly selected and trained some of the 19 hijackers.