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Limited seats at Fort Meade for public to watch terror arraignments

Members of the public may watch the arraignment of self-proclaimed 9/11mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other terror suspects from Fort Meade on Saturday, but seating for the video feed will be limited, a spokesman for the Army base said Tuesday.

Mohammed and his co-defendants are to be arraigned at Guantanamo Bay on charges of terrorism and murder in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

The proceedings are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. Members of the public may watch via secure, closed-circuit television feed at Fort Meade.

Those who do not have a Department of Defense identification card should enter the base at Gate Seven, at the intersection of Route 175 and Reece Road, to obtain a one-day pass. Drivers will need to show a valid driver's license, and original and current vehicle registration to receive a one-day pass.

Fort Meade spokesman Chad Jones said it was unclear Tuesday how many seats would be open to the public, but the number was limited.

Mohammed and the others are accused of helping to plan and carry out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. If convicted, they could be sentenced to death.

Their cases, which have been stalled for years, are now moving forward after the guilty plea of a former Baltimore County man in February.

Majid Shoukat Khan, the first of the 14 so-called high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay to be convicted, is expected to testify against his alleged former colleagues.

Khan, a native of Pakistan who landed in Catonsville with his family in 1996 and graduated from Owings Mills High School three years later, told a military tribunal in February that he had conspired with Mohammed and withal-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in plots in Indonesia, Pakistan and the United States.

Under his plea agreement, if he gives the government his "full and truthful cooperation," he will serve no more than 19 years for his role in a 2003 suicide car bombing at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta that killed 11.

His testimony is expected to help prosecutors work around evidence obtained through torture.

A military judge has authorized video feeds of the arraignments to eight sites at six locations.

Fort Meade is one of four military bases scheduled to receive the television feed of the proceedings. The base will host viewing sites for news reporters and the public. Families of victims may watch from Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, N.Y., Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey and Fort Devens in Massachusetts.

Firefighters and others who responded to the attacks, as well as relatives of the rescuers who were killed, may watch from a separate site at Fort Hamilton.

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

twitter.com/matthewhaybrown

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