Accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed began complaining to his military judge, and the judge shouted him down in a brief, at times baffling, episode Tuesday at the war court.
At one point, Mohammed, 51, inexplicably announced in Arabic “this is a nuclear bomb in the world,” as related through a court interpreter, after Army Col. James L. Pohl, the judge, threatened to eject him from court.
After court, Mohammed's attorney, David Nevin said he thought the remark “referred to the World War II bombing of innocent people in Hiroshima in Japan,” and called it “a placeholder for the idea that the United States has done harmful acts.”
Pohl reminded the alleged terrorist known as KSM that his Pentagon-paid lawyers speak for him in court. “He’s an American,” Mohammed replied, as Pohl continued to try to shut him up. “They’re American.”
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Mohammed, facing a death-penalty tribunal whose date has not yet been set, has mostly let his lawyers speak for him. But he chimed in at the end of lengthy legal arguments over a proposal to take sworn videotaped testimony here in October from elderly and infirm relatives of people killed on Sept. 11, 2001. The war court prosecutor wants to preserve the testimony for use at trial, and the sentencing portion, if Mohammed is convicted of war crimes.
Mohammed is accused of hatching the plot and dispatching the 9/11 hijackers who killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. He accused Pohl of “not being neutral” on the issue. Mohammed was clad in his typical war court attire: a Woodland Pattern jacket atop a traditional white robe, a white turban on his head. His beard, as usual, was dyed bright orange.
Before Mohammed could elaborate the Army colonel shouted him down to be quiet, adding he will not tolerate defendants talking without permission in his court.
Nevin reminded the judge that the captive’s team interpreter hasn’t had his security clearance renewed and hasn’t been in court for months. Nevin said his client was struggling with court provided translation through a headset, and didn’t understand the concept of a deposition.