9/11 terror suspects stage protest at first tribunal appearance

The five co-consiprators accused of masterminding the 9/11 terror attacks staged a silent protest during their first appearance before a U.S. military tribunal on Saturday. 

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others refused to answer questions of speak during Saturday's arraignment hearing held at the American detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

Their silence was in protest to claims of mistreatment during their incarceration at Guantanamo Bay at the hands of U.S. military officials, Cheryl Borman, one of the American civilian attorneys representing the suspects said, according to recent news reports. 

After their capture, each of the men was held at secret CIA prisons overseas before they were transferred in September 2006 to Guantanamo Bay, where they are held at a small, high-security facility known as Camp 7, according to the Washington Post

Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in the first month after his capture in March 2003.

Later during the hearing, co-defendants Yemeni national Ramzi Binalshibh and Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, a Pakistani, stood in the middle of the courtroom and began to pray, according to the Post. 

One of the five men, Walid bin Attash, was brought into the courtroom in restraints after he refused to attend the mandatory hearing. Attash was later removed from the restraints after his attorney said he would not disrupt the proceeding.

Army Col. James Pohl, the military judge overseeing the hearing, said he would not allow Mohammed and the others to “frustrate” the proceeding. 

"One cannot choose not to participate and frustrate the normal course of business," Col. Pohl said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Saturday's protests could be indicative of what is to come during the trial, which one U.S. defense attorney expects to drag on for months. 

"I can't imagine any scenario where this thing gets wrapped up in six months," James Connell, who represents al-Aziz Ali, told reporters observing the hearing via video at Ft. Meade in Maryland. 

The Obama administration considered holding a civilian trial and suspended the military one for Mohammed in 2010, but changed course amid protests last year. Attorney General Eric H. Holder reluctantly returned the case to the military in 2011. 

The five men are facing the death penalty if convicted for their role in coordinating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. 

Updated at 3:51 p.m.