DoD files capital charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

The Department of Defense on Tuesday filed capital charges against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators, as the Obama administration moved forward with plans to try the men before a military commission.

Military prosecutors filed eight charges against each of the men that included attacking civilians, hijacking aircraft, and terrorism. The five are all being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

“The charges allege that the five accused were responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks on New York, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pa. that occurred on September 11, 2001,” stated a release by the DOD. “Those attacks resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people.”

President George W. Bush’s administration filed similar charges against the men, but Obama dropped those charges while his administration reviewed the military commission process.

Obama promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by 2009, and hoped to hold trials in federal court for many of the detainees. But the president ran into stiff opposition from both parties in Congress, which passed legislation prohibiting the use of federal money for the transfer of any Guantanamo detainee to the United States for the purpose of a civilian trial.

Nearly three months ago, in a signal of defeat, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the administrations plans to stop its pursuit of civilian courts as a trial venue and said that military commissions would resume.

The Obama administration held that it wanted to close the facility because of alleged torture and physical abuses that were committed against suspected terrorists. Terrorist groups use the prison as a recruitment tool, the White House argues.

Administration efforts to hold civilian trials were also hurt by Ahmed Ghailani’s acquittal on more than 224 counts of murder and other charges last year. Ghailani was sentenced to life in prison for his role in bombing two U.S. embassies in Africa, but the acquittal on the other charges led to doubts on the ability of civilian courts to handle detainee trials.

The trial date for the alleged 9/11 co-conspirators has not been scheduled yet, but is expected to begin in several months, close to the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.