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Alleged 9/11 mastermind, 13 others closer to U.S. military trial

  • Story Highlights
  • "High-value detainees" at Guantanamo Bay designated as enemy combatants
  • Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed among 14 suspects
  • Designation paves the way for military charges, Pentagon officials say
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From Mike Mount
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fourteen suspected terrorists listed as "high-value detainees" at the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been designated as enemy combatants, placing them in line to be charged and put on trial by the U.S. military, Pentagon officials said Thursday.

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Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of 9/11, was moved to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, last September.

The detainees -- including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States -- were moved to Guantanamo Bay by the president last September after being held in secret CIA prisons around the world.

All 14 detainees went through closed hearings before a military panel to determine whether they would be eligible for a military tribunal.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England approved their designation as enemy combatants by the panels, paving the way for military prosecutors to charge them, Pentagon officials said.

Among the other high-value detainees are Ramzi bin al-Shibh, alleged to be another key 9/11 planner; and Abu Faraj al-Libi, allegedly a top al Qaeda planner.

In transcripts released from the hearings, Mohammed said he was responsible for the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and acknowledged he planned the 9/11 attacks.

"I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z," Mohammed said through a military representative at his hearing in March.

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The U.S. military has run into some barricades in moving forward with the military tribunals this year.

Two military judges refused to start trials this spring because they believed they had no jurisdiction over the detainees. Their rulings were based on the language identifying the detainees as enemy combatants.

The judges said Congress had set rules saying detainees must be called "unlawful enemy combatants," but the military lists them as "enemy combatants."

A decision by a Defense Department review panel on the judges' decisions is pending.

If the panel agrees, all the detainees listed as "enemy combatants" could have to go through another round of hearings to give them the alternate designation, according to Pentagon officials. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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