9/11 suspects object to war-court dates near end of Ramadan

By Carol Rosenberg Seattle Times

MIAMI— Lawyers for accused September 11 attacks mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four co-defendants are seeking to postpone their Aug. 8-12 hearing at Guantánamo Bay, noting it falls toward the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The trial judge, Army Col. James Pohl, is hearing motions in another Guantánamo case next week. But that hearing ends by July 19, before Islam’s fasting month starts. The pretrial motions in the 9/11 case would be heard toward the end of Ramadan.

“The last 10 days of Ramadan commemorate the night God — Allah — revealed the Holy Quran to the Prophet Muhammad,” said James Connell, the Pentagon-paid defense counsel for Mohammed’s nephew, Ammar al-Baluchi. “These 10 days are the most holy period of the Muslim calendar and are typically observed by fasting, prayer, and seclusion.”

It would not be the first Ramadan war-court appearance by Mohammed and the four men accused of orchestrating, funding and training the 19 terrorists who hijacked four aircraft on September 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. The five were brought to war court for hearings in September 2008, as Ramadan was reaching its conclusion on the Muslim calendar, and Mohammed objected then, too.

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