August 16, 2023

Biden administration tells 9/11 families that attack mastermind, 4 others could be spared death penalty

Victor Nava | New York Post

The Pentagon and FBI have notified some of the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks that suspected terrorist mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other defendants could be spared the death penalty under plea agreements being considered by the Biden administration.

The notice came in the form of a letter, obtained by the Associated Press, that was sent to 9/11 families as the government explores how to resolve the more than decade-long prosecution of the alleged terrorists.

“The Office of the Chief Prosecutor has been negotiating and is considering entering into pre-trial agreements,” the letter informs families, adding that while no plea agreement “has been finalized, and may never be finalized, it is possible that a [pre-trial agreement] in this case would remove the possibility of the death penalty.”

The Associated Press reports that in the letter, dated Aug. 1, military prosecutors pledge to consider the views of the 9/11 families before accepting any plea deals, and the note asks recipients to respond to the FBI’s victim services division by Monday with any comments or questions about the potential agreements.

The case involving Mohammed and the four others being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been mired in legal disputes and delays, particularly concerning the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by CIA operatives after the men were apprehended.

Some relatives of the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks expressed outrage over the possibility of plea deals being made.

“How can you have any faith in it?” Jim Riches, a retired deputy fire chief in New York City who lost his son Jimmy — also a firefighter — on Sept. 11, 2001, told the Associated Press about the government’s update.

“No matter how many letters they send, until I see it, I won’t believe it,” Riches said about the prospect of justice for his son’s death, lamenting that “those guys are still alive. Our children are dead” nearly 22 years after the attacks.

Peter Brady, whose father was killed in the attack, received the letter this week and said the case “needs to go through the legal process.”

It’s about “holding people responsible, and they’re taking that away with this plea,” Brady told the Associated Press.

No trial date has been set for the five suspected 9/11 conspirators.

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