US authorities are preparing to ask for the death penalty for six suspects in the 9/11 attacks who are detainees at Guantanamo. “If any case warrants it, it would be for individuals who were parties to a crime of that scale,” a Defense Department official told the New York Times yesterday. The six include Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda operative who says he masterminded the attacks.
The case will be handled by the controversial military tribunal system, which has yet to hear a single trial. Some relatives of victims argue that execution would reward the hijackers with martyrdom, but their execution is far from certain. “The system hasn’t been able to handle the less-complicated cases it has been presented with to date,” said a law professor and former Naval officer. A death sentence could still be reviewed by a civilian appeals court.