Five Guantanamo prisoners accused of plotting the September 11 attacks in 2001 will face the death penalty if convicted in a U.S. war crimes tribunal, the Pentagon official overseeing the trials said on Wednesday.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when alleged al Qaeda operatives hijacked four passenger planes and crashed them into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. Here are some details about the accused facing charges that include mass murder:
* Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - Pakistani raised in Kuwait, educated in the United States. Accused of planning the September 11 attacks and training the hijackers to use short-bladed knives by practicing on sheep and camels. Prosecutors contend he was a military operations commander for al Qaeda's foreign operations before his capture in Pakistan in 2003. Known as KSM, he has claimed responsibility for 31 attacks or planned attacks and told the U.S. military that he was responsible for the September 11 attacks "from A to Z" and that he beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. KSM said in a previous court hearing at Guantanamo that he wanted to plead guilty and would welcome martyrdom.
* Walid bin Attash - Yemeni raised in Saudi Arabia, lost his right leg in 1997 battle in Afghanistan. Accused of running an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan where he trained two of the September 11 hijackers. The Pentagon said he traveled to Malaysia in 1999 to observe U.S. airline security in order to assist the hijacking plan. Also accused of financing the attack on the USS Cole, buying the boat and explosives used in the attack and recruiting the operatives. He was also accused of helping obtain a passport for a man involved in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya, and acting as the link between bin Laden and the leader of al Qaeda's Kenya cell.
* Ramzi Binalshibh - Yemeni national and one-time roommate of suspected September 11 hijack ringleader Mohamed Atta in Hamburg, Germany. Accused of serving as a link between al Qaeda leaders and the hijackers. U.S. officials say he tried but failed to obtain a visa to enter the United States to take part in the attacks as a pilot-hijacker. The Pentagon said he helped find flight schools for the hijackers in the United States. Binalshibh was captured in Karachi, Pakistan, in September 2002. Military doctors diagnosed him with a delusional disorder and he was being given psychotropic drugs at Guantanamo, where defense lawyers have challenged his mental competency for trial.
* Ali Abdul Aziz Ali - Also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, is a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and cousin of jailed 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef. He is accused of being an important facilitator of the September 11 attacks, transferring money to U.S.-based operatives and assisting nine hijackers on their way from Pakistan to the United States. The Pentagon said he sent about $120,000 to hijackers for their expenses and flight training.
* Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi - Saudi accused of being a key financial facilitator of the September 11 attacks. The Pentagon said he provided the hijackers with money, Western clothing, travelers' checks and credit cards. Accused of accepting about $20,000 in wire transfers from two of the September 11, 2001, hijackers in the days before the attack. The U.S. military said his laptop held files that included al Qaeda expense reports and details of al Qaeda operatives and their families. Has said he was not a member of al Qaeda but attended an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and supported all "jihadists."
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Vicki Allen)