Public may watch Guantanamo arraignments from Fort Meade

Members of the public may watch the arraignment of self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other terror suspects Saturday at Fort Meade, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

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 in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 193.

Fort Meade is one of four military bases scheduled to receive a secure, closed-circuit television feed of the proceedings, Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said. It remains unclear whether there will be a separate viewing site in the Washington area for family members of victims.

Mohammed and the others are accused of helping to plan and carry out the attacks. 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 with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in plots in Indonesia, Pakistan and the United States.

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, according to his plea agreement.

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, Breasseale said Monday.

Fort Meade, the location nearest to the Pentagon, will have viewing sites for news reporters and the public, Breasseale said. A separate site there for family members won't be available on Saturday, he said, but another location in the Washington area remains under consideration.

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, Breasseale said.

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

An earlier version of this story quoted a Pentagon official as saying that a viewing site at Fort Meade for family members of victims would not be ready in time for the arraignments on Saturday. The official says readiness was not the issue; the site will not be available on Saturday.

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