The five alleged terrorists accused of planning the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York City and Washington are now claiming to be the victims of sexual harassment.
The accused terrorists — who are being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — said the “groin searches” they have been subject to amount to sexual misconduct.
“We be under sexual harassment today for search in being here,” one of the detainees, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, said at a military court hearing Monday, according to the Miami Herald.
Mohammed was responding to a question from the presiding judge, Army Col. James Pohl, who was asking if the accused terrorist understood that he could choose not to attend the remainder of pretrial hearings, which are being held over a seven-day period
Mohammed’s comments were echoed by each of his four fellow prisoners, who also claimed they had been harassed.
Ramzi bin al Shibh, one of the accused conspirators, protested what he called the “sexual harassment search.”
Moreover, the hearing was temporarily halted so that Mustafa al Hawsawi could be removed from the courtroom. Al Hawsawi, whose rectum was damaged while he was in the custody of the CIA, had asked to leave immediately, the Herald reported.
Hawsawi’s lawyer has said his client was sodomized, though the CIA said in 2014 he was subject to “rectal rehydration,” according to the New York Daily News. Hawsawi was also waterboarded about 200 times a month while being held by the CIA.
The alleged terrorists’ dissatisfaction at the way they have been treated came the same day the prison implemented a new procedure that allows guards to physically search detainees’ groin areas, instead of using body scanners.
This procedure was banned following a 2013 court order, but resumed after a higher court overturned this ruling.
The pretrial hearing continued throughout the week.
The alleged 9/11 conspirators, who are being detained at a secure facility called Camp 7, have access to some satellite TV channels. As a result, it is possible they have heard about the recent accusations of sexual misconduct being made against high-profile figures in the worlds of media, politics and entertainment.
The suspected terrorists allegedly trained the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks.
They were first charged at a military tribunal in 2008, during the administration of then-President George W. Bush. Years later, Attorney General Eric Holder attempted but failed to have them tried in a Manhattan federal court.
Pretrial hearings have been held since 2012, with the hope that an actual trial will take place soon.
In June 2017, prosecutors asked that jury selection begin in July 2019, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
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