9/11 suspect gets Guantanamo hearing

WASHINGTON - US military officials have held initial hearings for three terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, including the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the United States, the Pentagon said today.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said a three-member panel examined the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at a closed hearing on Saturday at the US military prison camp on Cuba.

Mohammed is among 14 prisoners identified by US authorities as "high-value" terrorism suspects and transferred to Guantanamo last September from secret CIA prisons abroad.

The hearings to determine whether the suspects meet US authorities' definition of an enemy combatant began on Friday, the Pentagon said.

The cases of two suspects -- Ramzi bin al Shaibah, a Yemeni also accused of involvement in the September 11 attacks, and alleged senior al Qaeda figure Abu Faraj al Libi of Libya -- were examined on Friday, Whitman said.

Whitman said not all the prisoners had chosen to participate in their hearings but he declined to give any more details. The Pentagon has said it will release an edited transcript of each hearing some days after it is held.

- REUTERS

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