News Source: www.indiatoday.in
9/11: 20 years on, trial is yet to begin
News Source/Courtesy: www.indiatoday.in

Exactly 20 years ago, around 6 pm IST on September 11, the US came under the worst terror attack. Terrorists hijacked four passenger planes and used them as live missiles aimed at four targets. The attack killed around 3,000 people in New York City, Washington DC and Pennsylvania of the United States.

These planes had been hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. They all were killed in the fidayeen mission. But the plotters, financiers and organizers have not yet been served justice.

The reason is that even as the US and people in other parts of the world commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack, the US military commission court has not yet started trial in the case.

The US agencies captured five alleged 9/11 plotters in an international counter-terror operation. They have been charged with war crimes including terrorism, murder of around 3,000 people, providing logistical support to the act of terror, and hijacking of planes.

If the military commission, which combines elements of both civilian and military laws, finds them guilty, the five men could be awarded the death penalty. All the five accused are lodged at the Guantanamo Bay base of the US military located in Southeast Cuba.

The five accused are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attack. He was captured from Pakistan and brought to the Guantanamo Bay base three years later.

Walid bin Attash is another accused who allegedly ran an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan where at least two of the hijackers received training. The third accused is Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a Yemeni national who allegedly organised logistics for the attack.

The fourth accused is Ammar al-Baluchi who is said to be a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and organised fund for the terror operation.

The fifth accused is a Saudi Arabian national, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawasawi, who is known as the "fixer" of 9/11 attack and who supplied whatever else was required for the terror operation -- cash, credit card and clothing.

The accused were first charged in 2008 -- seven years after the terror attack. The proceedings of the military commission could, however, begin only in 2012 -- a year after al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed in an operation by the US commandos, and 11 years after the terror attack.

Around three dozen pre-trial hearings have been held since then by the military commission at the Guantanamo Bay base. It has set a date of January next year for the selection of a jury for the trial.

Once the pre-trial hearings are complete and jury selection is done, the trial in the world's worst terror incident may begin, expectedly sometime next year -- in the 21st year of the tragedy.

Several witnesses are reported to have died expecting the trial to begin sooner. Families of the victims and the world at large are still waiting for justice being served to the perpetrators of terror.

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News Source: www.indiatoday.in

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