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US releases new letter from 9/11 defendants

ALLEGED terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed calls the Sept. 11 attack a "noble victory" and President Barack Obama a liar in a letter released by the military's war crimes court yesterday.

Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the terror attack on the US, and two of his co-defendants filed the letter last week with the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal in response to a government request to delay proceedings until the Obama administration decides whether to prosecute them in civilian court or in a revamped military proceeding.

A judge approved the 60-day continuance Monday in a hearing at the US base in Cuba. Mohammed and the other defendants declined to attend the session. They said in the two-page letter they had no objection to the requested delay.

Instead, they quote the Quran to indicate they will continue with their strategy of offering no defense: "I put my trust in Allah. So devise your plot ... Then pass your sentence on me and give me no respite."

Mohammed and the two co-defendants, Walid Bin Attash, and Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, communicate directly to the court because they are serving as their own lawyers. There are two other Guantanamo prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attack but they have not been cleared to represent themselves.

All five face a possible death sentence if convicted of war crimes charges that include murder for their alleged roles in the attack.

Mohammed, who was captured in Pakistan in 2003, has proclaimed his involvement in the Sept. 11 plot in the past and has said he wants to plead guilty and be executed, achieving what he views as martyrdom.

US military officials released the letter, along with a batch of other legal motions, at Guantanamo, where the war crimes court reconvened this week for hearings on the Sept. 11 case and for another Guantanamo prisoner charged with war crimes.

In the two-page letter, the three men send greetings to Osama bin Laden along with al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, noting the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack, which killed nearly 3,000 people in Washington, New York and Pennsylvania.

"We send our greeting to them on the occasion of the anniversary of 8 years past on the most noble victory known to history over the forces of oppression and tyranny in the Washington and Manhattan attack," they write.

The letter appears to refer to the period under President George W. Bush when "high value" detainees spent time at secret CIA prisons and were subjected to harsh interrogation that, at least in Mohammed's case, included threats to kill his family and being waterboarded.

"We spent three years moving around the black sites in the 'dark ages' of Bush, then we were transferred to the island of oppression, torture and terror, Guantanamo," they write. "Then, the lying Barack, the new American president was elected, and we entered the black ages of Barack."

The president is "the liar, moving us from continuance to continuance," they write, then launch into a rambling criticism of the US

In one of the other motions, Mohammed submitted a handwritten note in English calling Obama a lying megalomaniac who is the "negative photographic image of Bush."

The defendants also submitted motions seeking to dismiss civilian attorneys assisting them with their defense and requesting dictionaries, new computer software and research materials.

They also accuse detention center officials of hampering their ability to act as their own lawyers by blocking and delaying access to things they need for their defense and conducting repeated, unnecessary searches.

The judge has not yet ruled on their motions and US officials say they have addressed most of the requests for material they need for their defense.


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