Attorney: 9/11 defendants want platform to air views

A lawyer representing one of the 9/11 defendants said Sunday that the five defendants will plead not guilty to air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy.

Scott Fenstermaker, the attorney of accused 9/11 terrorist Ali Abd Al-Aziz Ali, said that his client will not deny his role in the attacks but instead "would explain what happened and why they did it," according to an Associated Press report.

The Justice Department earlier this month announced that Ali and four other accused terrorists, including so-called 9/11 "mastermind" Khlaid Sheikh Mohammad, will stand trial in a Lower Manhattan court close to Ground Zero. Ali is a cousin of Mohammad.

Congressional Republicans have opposed the trials in part because they feared the accused terrorists would use them as a stage to broadcast their viewpoints. But Democrats have supported the trials, saying they will serve as an opportunity to bring the terrorists to justice and help close the Guantamao Bay, Cuba detention center.

Mohammed, Ali and the others will explain "their assessment of American foreign policy," Fenstermaker said. "Their assessment is negative."

Fenstermaker met with Ali last week at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He has not spoken with the others but said the men have discussed the trial among themselves. Fenstermaker was first quoted in Sunday's New York Times.