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Entries in 9/11 (15)

Monday
Oct152012

Guantanamo Court Chaos Replaced by Order

Comstock/Thinkstock(GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba) -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other defendants charged in the 9/11 terror attacks were back before a military judge in Guantanamo Monday, and the proceedings bore little resemblance to their last, chaotic appearance in the courtroom on May 5.

As family members of the 9/11 victims watched, all five defendants, who were dressed in white, sat quietly except when answering direct questions posed by the judge, Col. James Pohl. Admitted 9/11 mastermind Mohammed, sporting a long, henna-dyed red beard, read legal papers. Monday was the first day of hearings expected to last through the week.

Five months ago, an arraignment expected to last several hours dragged on for 13, as the defendants took off their headsets, refused to answer questions from the judge and stood up to engage in prayer. Defendant Ramzi Binalshibh began ranting, and another defendant was brought into the courtroom in a restraint chair.

On Monday, the defendants enjoyed several legal victories, including the right to skip the rest of the week's proceedings. The prosecution had filed a motion requesting that the defendants be required to attend all hearings. Judge Pohl ruled that, for this week at least, attendance is not mandatory.

"The accused can, prior to assembly, choose voluntarily not to attend a session of the commission as long as...he understands his right to be present and what his options may or may not mean," ruled Pohl. The judge will also provide a sheet disclosing their rights that must be read to the accused in their cells if they elect to skip future sessions.

Later Col. Pohl individually read each of the defendants the options on the waiver form. The defendants replied in the affirmative either in English or through English translation. Most were puzzled by the part in the waiver that indicated the proceedings could take place if they were no longer under U.S. military control at Guantanamo.

Pohl had to explain to them the "unlikely" hypothetical that if they were to escape out of U.S. military control the military commission would still continue in their absence. The defendants agreed with this after it was explained to them.

When it was Mohammed's turn, he said through a translator, "Yes, but I don't think there's any justice in this court."

Earlier, the defense had moved that an additional civilian counsel be allowed to represent defendant Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi, a Saudi who allegedly helped finance the 9/11 attacks. Col. Pohl granted the motion after Hawsawi indicated that he wanted the attorney. In May, Hawsawi had stared straight ahead and refused to answer when Col. Pohl asked the same question.

Pohl also granted a defense motion that a military lawyer who had once represented Binalshibh be allowed to join Hawsawi's defense team. Pohl ruled that the attorney could represent Hawsawi, provided she did not share what she had learned while representing Binalshibh.

Outside observers were most interested in a motion that will likely be heard Tuesday. The ACLU is attempting to block a "protective order" that would prevent the revelation of classified details gathered during the defendants' CIA interrogations. The ACLU argues that the restriction will keep the public from learning about the conditions of the defendants' captivity, including torture.

Five 9/11 victims' family members chosen via lottery and their five invited guests attended Monday's hearings in Guantanamo. Victims' families are also eligible to watch via closed-circuit television at locations in Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, but a Pentagon spokesman said that only four family members were watching Monday's proceedings. The four family members were watching the proceedings at Fort Hamilton, N.Y.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun292012

Egypt's New President Vows to Win Release of WTC Plotter

AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Egypt's president-elect has vowed to win the release of an Egyptian cleric jailed by the U.S. for planning the first attack on New York's World Trade Center.

Omar Abdel-Rahman, "the blind sheikh," is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for his role in the 1993 bombing that killed six people in lower Manhattan. The attack on the World Trade Center launched by al Qaeda eight years later on Sept. 11, 2001, killed nearly 3,000 people.

"I see banners for Omar Abdel Rahman's family, and for prisoners arrested according to martial rulings and detainees from the beginning of the revolution," said Egyptian president-elect Mohammed Morsi to a buoyant crowd of Islamist supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday. "It is my duty to make every effort, and I will beginning tomorrow, to secure their release, among them Omar Abdel Rahman."

Rahman, 74, a veteran of Egypt's Islamist movement, was jailed in Egypt for allegedly helping to inspire the assassination of President Anwar Sadat. He entered the U.S. in 1990. One of his followers was convicted of gun possession, though acquitted of murder, after the assassination of Jewish leader Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York in 1990.

Using evidence collected by an Egyptian informant, the U.S. government prosecuted Rahman for conspiracy in connection with the February 1993 World Trade Center attack. After the attack, the government recorded Rahman encouraging further violence against targets in New York and New Jersey. Rahman and nine followers were arrested in June 1993, and he was sentenced to life in prison in 1996. He is presently incarcerated at the Butner federal facility in North Carolina, where Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, also 74, is serving his own effective life sentence.

In 2005, lawyer Lynne Stewart was convicted of serving as a messenger between Rahman and Islamists in Egypt. She was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison, and then resentenced to 10 years in prison in 2010 because of alleged perjury.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Osama Bin Laden Wanted 9/11 Follow-Up to Doom Economy, Terrorist Says

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A convicted terrorist said that shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Osama bin Laden told him that the next attack would strike a fatal blow to the American economy.

In a video testimony played in a New York court Monday, Saajid Badat, who was convicted in London of a December 2001 plot to blow up a U.S.-bound flight with a bomb in his shoes, recounted his meeting with the al Qaeda leader just after the 9/11 attacks.

"So he said the American economy is like a chain," Badat said. "If you break one -- one link of the chain, the whole economy will be brought down. So after [the] Sept. 11 attacks, this operation will ruin the aviation industry and in turn the whole economy will come down."

By "this operation," Badat was apparently referring to his own mission -- the destruction of an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami just three months after 9/11. Badat backed out of the plot at the last minute, but another convicted terrorist, Richard Reid, attempted to go through with it on Dec. 22, 2001. The explosives hidden in his shoes, however, did not ignite and Reid was arrested.

Badat's testimony came as part of the trial of Adis Medunjanin, who stands accused of plotting to attack New York's subway system with suicide bombs in 2009. The admitted ringleader of that plot, Najibullah Zazi, broke down in tears on the stand last week while testifying against his comrade.

When asked then by the prosecutor if he still considered Medunjanin a good friend, Zazi began to cry, and said, "I love him." Zazi's tears became sobs when he was asked if he believed Medunjanin intended to carry out the suicide bombings. Zazi hung his head, and after a short pause, whispered, "yes."

Officials previously told ABC News that documents recovered in the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden nearly a year ago showed that the terror leader grew increasingly frustrated with his organization's inability to pull off other another attack on the scale of 9/11.

After it was revealed that bin Laden plotted to kill President Barack Obama and then-military commander David Petraeus, one national security official said bin Laden "clearly had bold ambitions to kill as many innocent people as possible. But al Qaeda's capabilities did not match Bin Laden's intent. Leading up to and since bin Laden's death we know that al Qaeda's capacity to pull off those types of complex attacks has been greatly diminished, and that Bin Laden himself spent much of his time brooding and providing guidance that often fell on deaf ears."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar012012

Ex-Senators Say Saudi Arabia May Be Linked to 9/11

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Two former senators who led inquiries into the 9/11 attacks have issued sworn statements that they believe the government of Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the fight on terrorism, may have played a role in the terror attacks ten years ago.

"I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia," said former Senator Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat, in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Graham led a 2002 congressional probe of the attacks.

Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat who served on the 9/11 Commission, said in a separate affidavit that "significant questions remain unanswered" about the role of Saudi institutions. "Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued."

Families of the 9/11 victims released a statement praising Kerrey and Graham for their affidavits, which were filed in a New York federal court Friday to rebut claims by the Saudi government in recent court papers that the 9/11 Commission had "exonerated" it of any connection to 9/11.

"The families and survivors of the atrocities of 9/11 have not given up hope for justice. We are determined to expose the truth," said Beverly Burnett of Minnesota, mother of Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., who died on United flight 93 when it crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers fought hijackers for control of the plane. "The financiers and enablers of those who murdered our loved ones are still alive, well and capable of supporting terrorism. The trail back to them still points to Saudi Arabia."

Sen. Kerrey's affidavit said it was "incorrect" for the Saudis to claim that the 9/11 Commission had "exonerated" them. "Stated simply, the 9/11 Commission did not have the time, opportunity or resources to pursue all potentially relevant evidence on that important question, and the American public deserves a more comprehensive inquiry into the issue," wrote Kerrey.

The affidavits are part of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit that has been working its way through the federal courts since 2002. Though the U.S. Justice Department has joined the Saudis in trying to have lawsuits against the Saudis thrown out of court, an appellate court said late last year that foreign nations were not immune to lawsuits under some terrorism claims, meaning parts of the Saudi case may be reheard.

Lawyers for the Saudis have moved to have the affidavits disallowed. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News. The Saudi embassy also did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Saudis have always denied any connection to the 9/11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who crashed planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., were Saudi.

According to Sen. Graham, open questions include possible financial support of al Qaeda by Saudi charities, and the role of a Saudi resident of California who was in contact with both the hijackers and Saudi officials. "There was a direct line," wrote Graham, "between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia, and [a] Saudi government agent living in the United States, Omar al Bayoumi, provided direct assistance to September 11th hijackers Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar."

"Finally someone who knows some of the truth about 9/11 is standing up and saying, 'Wait a minute, we didn't give those guys the all clear' as Saudi Arabia has been saying for several years," said Sharon Premoli of Vermont, who was in the World Trade Center when it was struck. "Exonerated, I don't think so!"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar012012

Terrorist Pleads Guilty at Gitmo, Sentenced to 19 Years

John Moore/Getty Images(GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba) -- Majid Khan went from working for a Virginia electronics firm to becoming a terrorist assigned to conduct a wave of 9/11-style attacks on the U.S.

But before he could carry out his mission, Khan was caught and now he will spend at least 19 years in prison after copping a plea deal on Wednesday before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay.

In exchange for a lesser sentence, Khan must provide "complete and accurate information in interviews, depositions and testimony wherever and whenever requested by the prosecutors" about other terrorist suspects.

Khan, a Pakistani citizen, was in Virginia when the Pentagon came under attack on Sept. 11, 2001.  He then decided to join al Qaeda by traveling to Pakistan where he met with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, now a detainee at Gitmo.

In addition to being a courier for al Qaeda, Khan was prepared to conduct terrorist activities in the U.S., including poisoning water reservoirs and blowing up fuel tanks under filling stations.

Apprehended in 2003, Khan pleaded guilty Wednesday to five war crimes, including murder, attempted murder and spying.  If he decides not to cooperate with prosecutors, his sentence will be extended to 25 years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec132011

Anger Builds Over Tower Design Resembling 9/11 Explosion

James Hardy/PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections/Getty Images(ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands) -- A new building design created by Dutch architectural firm MVRDV is angering people who say the structure evokes the World Trade Center attack during 9/11.

The new luxury building, slated for completion in 2015 in Seoul, South Korea, will featured a “cloud” connecting two towers at the 27th floor.  But some say that The Cloud, which will feature a large connecting atrium, a wellness center, various pools, restaurants and cafes, looks far too similar to the explosion at the World Trade Center on 9/11 after two planes flew directly into the twin towers.

“A real media storm has started and we receive threatening emails and calls of angry people calling us al Qaeda lovers or worse,” the company posted on its Facebook page.

Hundreds of outraged commenters took to the company’s Facebook page, such as Lance Henley, who wrote, “It looks like the WTC exploding on impact, how could anyone be such a moron…if it goes up it’ll come down just as fast.”

But others suggested the comparison was far-fetched.

“Everyone should remember that the World doesn’t revolve around the US or 9/11. They have their own things going on to think about and worry about to honestly remember what the buildings looked like coming down and all that. Stop acting like the world revolves around the US,” wrote Ricky Arellano.

The Cloud was reportedly inspired by a drawing of two towers with a cloud covering the center of the skyscraper.

On their website, the company wrote, “MVRDV regrets deeply any connotations The Cloud projects evokes regarding 9/11.  It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process.  We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt, it was not our intention.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct122011

Zawahiri Celebrates 'Defeat' of America in New Video

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a new video, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri celebrates the fall of Arab "despots," as well as what he calls "the defeats of their master America," including 9/11 and U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"[Osama bin Laden] attacked America at its core in the biggest attacks since Pearl Harbor," says Zawahiri in the 13-minute video, released on jihadist websites late Tuesday, and calls the U.S. "the symbol of murder in human history." He says America "was defeated in Iraq and had to withdraw," and has also been "defeated in Afghanistan, where it was started to withdraw.

Wearing a white turban and sitting in an armchair, without the rifle he has had by his side in past messages, Zawahiri also calls the regime changes in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt defeats for the U.S.

The message is the sixth that Zawahiri has released since the death of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in May, and the fourth released since Zawahiri assumed command of the terror group in June.

Zawahiri, 60, an Egyptian-born doctor, helped found al Qaeda with bin Laden, merging bin Laden's group with his own Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Together they issued a fatwa in 1998, believed to have been authored by Zawahiri, called "World Islamic Front Against Jews and Crusaders," and also called a general meeting of al Qaeda.

Their shared career of terror began with the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania later that year, and continued with the USS Cole attack of 2000 and then 9/11. Zawahiri is under indictment in the U.S. for the embassy attacks. Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the U.S. has offered $25 million for information leading to the death or capture of Zawahiri.

Zawahiri officially assumed control of al Qaeda in June. In a message released in August, just three weeks before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, he urged "Muslim brothers everywhere" to continue to target the United States, and to avenge bin Laden's death.

"America today is staggering," said Zawahiri. "Hunt her down wherever you may encounter her. Hunt her down to cut what is left of her corruption's tail."

"Pursue America, which killed the 'Imam of the Mujahedeen' and threw his body into the sea, and then captured his women and sons," said Zawahiri. "Hunt her down until history says that a murderous country spread corruption in the earth so God sent his faithful to her to make an example out of her."

Immediately prior to the anniversary, U.S. officials were scrambling to sort through information that the CIA developed indicating that at least three individuals entered the U.S. in August by air with the intent to launch a vehicle-borne attack against Washington, D.C., or New York around the anniversary, according to intelligence officials.

Officials say the alleged terror plot, which they described as specific and credible, was initiated by Zawahiri.

Zawahiri also applauded the Arab Spring revolutions in a tape released in September, entitled "The Dawn of Imminent Victory," as a devastating blow to American interests. In that message, he also praised the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as "invasions" that "shook the foundations of the global crusaders and still shake it."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep292011

Iran Fires Back at Al Qaeda with Another CIA Conspiracy

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Iran is doubling down on the conspiracy theories after an al Qaeda magazine blasted Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 9/11 claims, this time suggesting the true authors of the terror publication -- which often instructs readers to murder Americans -- are not radical Islamists, but secret agents for the CIA.

Sandwiched between lengthy anti-American editorials, an al Qaeda author wrote in the latest issue of an al Qaeda English-language magazine called Inspire that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued to spread the conspiracy theory that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks because Iran was jealous of al Qaeda.

"For them, al Qaeda was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world," the article says. "Al Qaeda...succeeded in what Iran couldn't. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories."

Responding to the article's assertions today, Iranian state news repeated Ahmadinejad's arguments and said "reports released by al Qaeda are usually believed to be produced by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)."

Noting the general content of Inspire articles, a spokesperson for the CIA told ABC News, "There are some allegations that don't even deserve comment. This is one."

Previous issues of Inspire have given detailed instructions to readers on various ways to violently attack the U.S. and its allies, including an early article called "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom".

When not teaching readers about explosives or the proper stance for firing an AK-47, Inspire features long-winded anti-Western screeds, often penned by prominent terror leaders. It also recently a eulogy for al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden -- the man who was actually responsible for the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans, according to a years-long, painstaking U.S. investigation.
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News radio

Tuesday
Sep132011

Al Qaeda Releases New Video Lauding 9/11 Attacks

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Al Qaeda's latest message came too late to upstage America's commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Still, the newest video posted on radical Islamic websites from new leader Ayman al-Zawahiri offered a stark reminder that the terrorist group is still bent on wreaking more havoc in the U.S. a decade after 19 hijackers disrupted the American way of life.

The monitoring group SITE Intelligence said Tuesday that the video entitled "The Dawn of Imminent Victory" features remarks by al-Zawahiri about this year's revolutions in Arab nations and the death of his predecessor, Osama bin Laden, while praising the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

It also features footage of bin Laden, which is from the same videos seized by Navy SEALS in Pakistan after they killed the al Qaeda chief last May.

Al-Zawahiri has also been targeted for assassination by the U.S. and remains in hiding.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep112011

Muslim Protesters Burn American Flag Outside US Embassy in London

Photodisc​/Thinkstoc​k(LONDON) -- Protesters set fire to an American flag outside the U.S. Embassy in London Sunday  during a minute of silence to commemorate the moment the first hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Among the protesters in Grosvenor Square were members of the group Muslims Against Crusades (MAC). They shouted “USA terrorists” and held signs that read “Islam Will Dominate the World.”

“You will always face suffering, you will always face humiliation, unless you withdraw your troops from Muslim lands,” said one protester in a speech, according to multiple reports.

A smaller counter-demonstration was held nearby, with protesters holding signs reading “Muslims Against Extremism” and “If You Want Sharia, Move To Saudi.”

“I’m a Muslim. What they’re doing is bringing shame on all Muslims. This is not part of the teachings of Islam,” said Abdul Sallam, 41, who was waving a sign that read “Keep The Silence,” according to multiple reports. “Islam is all about peace, but what they want to do is hate other people. Islam teaches you that when you see anything bad or evil, you should speak out against it. If the moderate Muslims all came out and spoke out, that would defeat them.”

Earlier, a group of 60 protesters from the English Defense League (EDL), a far-right movement against Islamic extremism in England, were asked by police to move to make room for the anti-American protestors in Grosvenor Square. But the protesters did not go quietly.

EDL supporters threw glass bottles at the MAC protesters as police tried to disperse the group to prevent a confrontation, according to ITN. Twenty people were arrested for breaching the peace.

Later, as police struggled to move the MAC protesters towards the Central London Mosque in Regents Park, they arrested another four people.

One man spit at a photographer who was snapping a picture of him in the arms of policemen.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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