US Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four other terrorists will be transferred to New York City — just blocks away from ground zero — to stand trial in a civilian court, charged as the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks that were responsible for the death of over 3,000 Americans.
The trial is a key step in President Obama’s plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama, speaking from Asia, commented that the decision to charge the notorious terrorist was "a prosecutorial decision as well as a national security decision".
Holder said he is quite confident that the United States will be successful in their prosecution effort and confirmed this morning that the transfer should occur within the next 45 days.
U.S. Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) believes that “it’s an unnecessary risk to bring the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9-11 attacks to downtown Manhattan.”
In a statement released after Holder’s announcement Kyl remarked that “Past trials of terrorists have proven that our civilian courts are not the appropriate venue to handle international terrorism trials. As a result of the trial of Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the ‘Blind Sheik,’ al Qaeda obtained valuable information about U.S. intelligence sources and methods, thereby making the job of fighting terrorists tougher. Military tribunals — which have been used by Presidents dating back to George Washington — are the most appropriate, and secure, forum to try those who commit acts of war against the United States.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) in a statements just released said the White House’s decision is "misguided" and "based on the false belief that the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans in one day on U.S. soil are common criminals — not war criminals."
"There are needless risks from this decision," said McConnell. "Classified information can be inadvertently leaked, as it was in the first World Trade Center trial; our cities will face enormous security problems; and our communities will be potential targets for attack.”
“It is a constant amazement to me that there are some who seem more concerned about extending legal protections to terrorists than security protection to Americans,” said Kyl.
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey will address the White House decision to prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in speech today at 2:25pm.