Washington: The US on Wednesday charged Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, along with four alleged plotters, vowing to seek the death penalty in a much-awaited military trial.
The other four Guantanamo Bay inmates are Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi.
They will face charges including terrorism, hijacking, conspiracy, murder and destruction of property. They could face the death penalty if found guilty, the Pentagon confirmed.
Based on the allegations outlined in the chargesheets, the five accused are charged with terrorism, hijacking aircraft, conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, and destruction of property in violation of the law of war, the Department of Defense said.
"The charges allege that the five accused are responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington DC, and Shanksville, Pa, resulting in the killing of 2,976 people," the Defense Department said in a statement.
In a statement, it said that the convening authority referred the case to a capital military commission, meaning that, if convicted, the five accused could be sentenced to death.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who US officials refer to simply as "KSM," has been at the centre of a years long debate over how and where to prosecute the accused plotters.
The charges have been referred to a joint trial to be held at the US Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the US government has set up military commissions to try terror suspects.
Pursuant to the reforms in the Military Commissions Act of 2009, each of the five accused have been provided, in addition to their detailed defense counsel, learned counsel, possessing specialized knowledge and experience in death penalty cases, to assist them in their defence.
The Pentagon has previously said 46-year-old Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was captured in Pakistan in March 2003 and has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since 2006, admitted he was responsible "from A to Z" for the 9/11 attacks. A total of 2,976 people died in the attacks.
US President Barack Obama had pledged in the early years of his presidency to shut down Guantanamo Bay and try high-value terror suspects in US civilian courts.
The Obama administration, which had tried to move their trial into US civilian courts in 2009, reversed its decision in April 2011 amid widespread opposition.
Human rights watchdogs have slammed the Guantanamo tribunals as flawed amid demands that those accused of terror plots be tried in American federal courts by civilian judges and juries.