Sister of 9/11 victim speaks of her anguish as families still wait for the mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, to be brought to justice 18 years on
- Debra Burlingame’s pilot brother died on board American Airlines Flight 77
- Her other brother, Bradley, had been picked to testify at a trial but died in 2015
- ‘That was a crushing loss for my family, that he didn’t live to see our brother’s murderers brought to justice’, Debra said on the 18th anniversary of the atrocity
- Officials announced in August that the trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men charged as the masterminds is set for January 11, 2021
- It marked the first time that a trial judge in the case actually established a date
The sister of a 9/11 victim has spoken of her anguish as the families of those who died still wait for the mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to be brought to justice 18 years on.
Debra Burlingame’s brother, pilot Charles ‘Chic’ Burlingame III, died on board American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon during the Al-Qaeda attacks on September 11, 2001.
Her other brother, Bradley, had been picked by prosecutors to testify as part of the penalty phase of the trial that will now take place at Camp Justice at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba in 2021, but died aged 63 in 2015 of pancreatic cancer.
Debra told The New York Post: ‘That was a crushing loss for my family, that he didn’t live to see our brother’s murderers brought to justice.’
Colonel W. Shane Cohen of the Air Force announced in August that the trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men charged as the masterminds is set for January 11, 2021.
Khalid Sheikh (also spelled as Shaikh) Mohammed is said to be the architect behind the plot that killed 2,976 in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.
A 2021 date has been established for the death-penalty trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, pictured, and four other men charged as the masterminds behind the September 11 attack
Charles Burlingame, of Herndon, Va.,was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 that was hijacked out of Dulles International Airport and crashed into the Pentagon on September 11
Debra Burlingame’s pilot brother Charles ‘Chic’ Burlingame III died on board American Airlines Flight 77. Her other brother, Bradley, had been picked to testify at a trial but died in 2015. Debra and Bradleyare pictured in 2015
He told investigators during ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques: ‘I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z.’
Attorney Steve Zissou said: ‘No president of the United States is ever going to let him go.’
But Cohen’s announcement marks the first time that a trial judge in the case actually established a date. Prosecutors had tried to get the ball rolling with two previous judges after the 2012 arraignment.
The other men also charged include: Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ammar al-Baluchi and Mustafa al-Hawsawi.
All five men were arraigned in the case on May 5, 2012. They were arraigned in a national security courtroom at Guantánamo.
One retired FDNY Deputy Chief who attended three days of pretrial hearings in 2008 said he wanted to ‘punch them out’.
Jim Riches said: ‘Those guys are playing a game down there. They laughed, they stood up, they prayed whenever they wanted. Total disrespect. I wanted go in and punch them out.’
Author Richard Miniter, who wrote a book on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed said the ‘very smart, evil man’ once ‘wrote down the four flight numbers from 9/11, folded it into a paper airplane and floated it toward where the family members were watching’.
He added: ‘It was a giant FU to the families.
‘If this was ancient Rome, they would have dragged him into Yankee Stadium and stoned him to death with the rubble of the World Trade Center — but those days are gone.’
Debra Burlingame, whose brother, Charles Burlingame was captain aboard Flight 77, holds a poster with his picture during a vigil in front of The White House
Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the alleged September 11 mastermind, shortly after his capture during a raid in Pakistan in 2003. A military judge set a 2021 start date for the long-stalled war crimes trial of the five men being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison on charges of planning and aiding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
Issues blocking earlier possible dates included finding out the proper security clearance needed to review documents pertinent to al-Baluchi’s confession to FBI agents.
The suspect is said to have made the confessions in post-torture interrogations conducted shortly after he arrived at Guantánamo in 2006.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is also said to have admitted killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and organizing the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
But that, and other confessions involving the bombing a nightclub in Bali and his role in ‘shoe bomber’ Richard Reid’s attempt to blow up a plane cannot be used in court after he was waterboarded 183 times.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is also said to have admitted killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, pictured
Prosecutors say he gave legal confessions after being transferred to Guantanamo Bay.
Lawmakers also struggled determining whether to try the case in civilian court or by military commission.
And the case was further delayed when President Barack Obama suspended the war court, in an attempt to add more protections for due process.
Obama also attempted to try the group in a federal court in New York City, a proposal that was met with protest and legislation to block it.
Back in March of 2019, a defense lawyer disclosed that prosecutors announced that they had tapes of calls between Mohammed and three of his accused co-conspirators.
In the calls, made months before 2,976 people were killed, the parties can be heard speaking in code about their plan.
Law professor Victor Hansen said: ‘I think the prosecution will try to relive the events of 9/11 in as much detail as possible, and remind the panel sitting in judgment of the horrific event.’
Hundreds have gathered at Ground Zero in New York City on Wednesday to observe the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that took 2,977 lives
Relatives and friends of the victims of the attacks gathered for the ceremony at Ground Zero Wednesday morning where the names of each of the victims will be read out, some seen clutching photos of their loved ones
Relatives of some of the dead will visit Ground Zero on Wednesday where every victim’s name will be read out, and tolling bells will mark the moments when two hijacked planes crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center.
President Donald Trump is due at a ceremony at the Pentagon, where the third plane exploded, while Vice President Mike Pence will speak near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where heroic passengers brought down the fourth jet before it could reach Washington.
Former President George W. Bush, the commander-in-chief at the time of the 2001 attacks, is due at an afternoon wreath-laying at the Pentagon.
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