Ramadan delays hearings for 9/11 suspects

More delays in the trial at Guantanamo of the 9/11 plotters. This time, it's to allow the defendants to observe the last 10 days of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.


The next hearing for five Guantanamo prisoners charged with plotting the September 11 attacks has been postponed for two weeks to allow the defendants to observe the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Nashiri's hearing had been scheduled to run through Friday but has been cut short by a day, also because of Ramadan, the month when devout Muslims fast during daylight hours. Many Muslims will observe the start of Ramadan on Friday, although some begin and end the fast before or after others because they follow different rules or disagree on whether they have spotted the new crescent moon that marks the start of the month in Islam's lunar calendar.

Pretrial hearings are scheduled to resume on Tuesday in another death penalty case at Guantanamo - that of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, an alleged al Qaeda chieftain accused of helping orchestrate a deadly attack on a U.S. warship off Yemen in 2000.

The five were arraigned at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in May and their next hearing had already been postponed from June because of scheduling conflicts among the defense lawyers.

"Today, the military commission rescheduled its next hearing from August 8-12 to August 22-26 to accommodate a defense request to avoid hearings during the last 10 days of Ramadan," said defense attorney James Connell, who represents Mohammed's nephew, defendant Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, also known as Ammar al Baluchi.

The chief judge in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals, Army Colonel James Pohl, granted the delay on Monday for the alleged architect of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four co-defendants who could face the death penalty if convicted on charges of conspiring with al Qaeda and murdering 2,976 people in the hijacked plane attacks of 2001.


In our eagerness to show how "fair" we are to the terrorists, it is likely that the murderers who planned the 9/11 attacks will outlive many of us. Given the potential for courtroom histrionics and the hundreds of motions that the judge has to sift through and hear arguments for -- not to mention delays for holy days and holy months -- the defendants are likely to die of natural causes before they can be executed.

Can this trial last a decade? The way it's going now, anything is possible.

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