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Biden Administration Considers Ending Death Penalty in 9/11 Case with Plea Deal

Introduction to the Case

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The Long Road to Justice for 9/11 Attacks

Suspected mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four other defendants have been prosecuted over a decade. Pentagon and FBI are now considering plea agreements that might end the death penalty for these individuals.

Exploration of a Negotiated Resolution

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The Negotiation Process Begins

The possibility of a negotiated resolution began 1 1/2 years ago between military prosecutors and defense lawyers. The prosecution has been troubled by delays and legal disputes, with no trial date set.

Consideration of Pre-Trial Agreements

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Pre-Trial Agreements and Death Penalty

A letter sent to the victims’ families suggests that the prosecution is considering pre-trial agreements, which could remove the possibility of the death penalty. However, it emphasized that no agreement has been finalized.

Reaction from the Victims’ Families

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Outrage and Consideration

Some relatives of the victims expressed outrage at the prospect of a plea agreement, demanding a verdict. Military prosecutors vowed to consider their views in the final decision-making process.

The Letter to Families

The Timely Response

Dated Aug. 1, the letter asked families to respond by Monday with comments or questions. The FBI declined to comment on the letter.

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Recalling the Attacks

PhotoCredit: @9.11.attacks on Instagram

The Horror of 9/11

On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida militants carried out coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, leading to nearly 3,000 deaths. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was found to be the mastermind behind the plan.

The Accused and Their Role

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The Five Defendants

Besides Mohammed, four other defendants allegedly supported the hijackers in various ways. They were captured between 2002 and 2003 and sent to Guantanamo for trial in 2006.

The Impact of the Attacks

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The U.S. “War on Terror”

The 9/11 attacks prompted the U.S. to launch wars in Afghanistan, where al-Qaida was based, and in Iraq, despite having no connection to the attacks.

Families’ Frustration

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A Father’s Anguish

Jim Riches, who lost his firefighter son in 9/11, expressed frustration at the unresolved case and skepticism about the military tribunal process. He believes the defendants should be tried in civilian court.

Opposition to Civilian Trial

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The Debate Over Civilian Trials

The Obama administration once considered civilian trials, but shelved the idea due to opposition from victims’ families, Congress, and concerns about security costs.

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Demands from Other Families

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Seeking Answers and Accountability

Some family members insist on the opportunity to question the defendants about any Saudi official involvement in 9/11. Saudi Arabia denies involvement by senior officials.

A Plea vs. Legal Process

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The Debate on Plea Agreements

Family member Peter Brady, whose father died in the attack, argues that the case should go through the legal process, rather than be settled in a plea deal.

Upcoming Hearings

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Competency Examination and Future Hearings

The 9/11 hearings are on hold pending examination of a defendant’s competency. Hearings are scheduled to resume on Sept. 18.

Torture and Legal Complexities

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Legal Challenges and Torture

The case has faced changes in defense lawyers and judges, grappling with legal issues, including inadmissible testimony due to torture. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times.

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Conclusion

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A Continuing Struggle for Justice

The prolonged and complex prosecution of the 9/11 defendants continues to evoke strong emotions and legal challenges, symbolizing the ongoing struggle for justice and accountability. The possibility of plea agreements adds a new dimension to this unfolding legal drama.  

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