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Alleged 9/11 planner: 'We are in hell'

The alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks said Thursday that the U.S. military is making it difficult for him to serve as his own lawyer.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks said Thursday that the U.S. military is making it difficult for him to serve as his own lawyer.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has rejected his Pentagon-appointed attorneys, says the military has not given him paper in his cell and failed to deliver a legal motion he wrote to the judge on this U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

“We are not in normal situation. We are in hell,” the Pakistani, who had wide gray beard, told the judge in broken English.

Mohammed is one of five Guantanamo prisoners charged in the attacks. They face death sentences if convicted. He and two co-defendants who are also representing themselves complain of delays in obtaining Arabic translations of court documents and a lack of access to computers.

Earlier Thursday, one of the alleged coconspirators told the judge he would be “proud” to have participated in an attack on the U.S.

Judge advises against serving as attorney
“Any attack I undertook against America, or even participated or helped in, I am proud about it, and I am happy,” said Waleed bin Attash, a Yemeni who allegedly ran a training camp in Afghanistan for Sept. 11 hijackers.

The Marine judge, Col. Ralph Kohlmann, tried to persuade the men to accept their Pentagon-appointed attorneys, warning them they will not be allowed to see classified material because they lack security clearances and would risk a greater chance of being convicted.

He also said they would be held to the same rules as other lawyers.

When Mohammed later pressed his complaint about the lack of paper, Kohlmann instructed him to put the request in writing and file it to the tribunal as a law motion.

The defendants were all transferred to Guantanamo from secret CIA prisons in 2006. Attorneys aiding Mohammed said they are awaiting guidance from the detention center on procedures for him to file motions.

Bin Attash complained earlier that he did not have an opportunity to read Arabic-language versions of court documents until he arrived in the courtroom, prompting Kohlmann to order a recess for the prisoner to read them.

Claims of intimidation
Army Col. Lawrence Morris, the chief prosecutor for the war crimes trials at Guantanamo, said the U.S. is still sorting through what resources the defendants will need to represent themselves.

Kohlmann called the hearings this week to explore allegations by military defense lawyers that Mohammed may have intimidated the others into refusing Pentagon-appointed lawyers.

Three said they had not been intimidated. A hearing for the fourth, Ramzi Binalshibh, was postponed because he refused to leave his cell.

Mohammed, al-Qaida’s No. 3 leader at the time of his capture in 2003, denied pressuring any of his co-defendants.

“I don’t think anyone can threaten me or I can threaten them,” he told the judge. “We are not gangs in the USA jails. ... Everyone respects his own view.”