WASHINGTON - The U.S. will seek the death penalty for terror suspects to be tried in New York for the 9/11 tragedy, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday during an appearance before the Senate.
"We will also use every instrument of our national power to bring to justice those responsible for terrorist attacks against our people. For eight years, justice has been delayed for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. It has been delayed even further for the victims of the attack on the USS Cole," said Holder.
"No longer. No more delays. It is time, it is past time, to act. By bringing prosecutions in both our courts and military commissions, by seeking the death penalty, by holding these terrorists responsible for their actions, we are finally taking ultimate steps toward justice. That is why I made this decision," he said, explaining why he decided to move the trial of five accused to civilian courts.
Among those to be tried in New York is the self-confessed organizer of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. There is a concern that Mohammed will use the platform to spew his ideology.
"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will have no more of a platform to spew his hateful ideology in federal court than he would have in military commissions," said Holder
"Before the commissions last year, he declared the proceedings an "inquisition," condemned his own attorneys and our Constitution, and professed his desire to become a martyr. Those proceedings were heavily covered in the media, yet few complained at the time that his rants threatened the fabric of our democracy," Holder said.
"Judges in federal court have firm control over the conduct of defendants and other participants in their courtrooms, and when the 9/11 conspirators are brought to trial, I have every confidence that the presiding judge will ensure appropriate decorum," he said in a prepared statement.
"And if KSM makes the same statements he made in his military commission proceedings, I have every confidence the nation and the world will see him for the coward he is. I’m not scared of what KSM will have to say at trial – and no one else needs to be either," said Holder.
"I expect to direct prosecutors to seek the ultimate and most uncommon penalty for these heinous crimes. And I expect that they will be held in custody under Special Administrative Measures reserved for the most dangerous criminals," he added.