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Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a Yemeni, has been charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, attacking civilians and civilian objects, causing serious bodily injury, murder in violation of the laws of war, destruction of property in violation of the laws of war, hijacking, terrorism, and providing material support for terrorism. The government is prosecuting bin al-Shibh with four others, all of whom are alleged to have been involved in the planning and execution of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and is seeking the death penalty for all of them.

The US government claims that bin al-Shibh was chosen by bin Laden to be one of the participants in the 9/11 hijacking, but was unable to take part when his repeated requests for a US visa were denied.

Although bin al-Shibh was reportedly arrested and transferred to US custody in September 2002, he was not transferred to Guantanamo until four years later. In the interim he was reportedly interrogated and held incommunicado in secret CIA detention facilities, where he was effectively "disappeared." A former Jordanian detainee claims that bin al-Shibh was initially rendered to Jordan, where he was badly tortured with electric shocks, long periods of sleep deprivation, forced nakedness, and made to sit on sticks and bottles (a form of sexual violence).

Bin al-Shibh's lawyers are arguing that bin al-Shibh may be unfit to stand trial and have asked that the proceedings against him and his four co-accused be stayed until his mental state is determined. They say he has been prescribed psychotropic drugs of the sort that are used to treat schizophrenia. Bin al-Shibh claims that he is mentally fit, has denounced his lawyers, and says that he wants to represent himself before the commissions.

In November 2009 Attorney general Eric Holder announced that Ramzi bin al-Shibh along with four co-defendents in the 9/11 prosecution, would be moved from Guantanamo to stand trial in federal district court in New York City. However, after New York officials raised objections based on purported security and cost concerns, the Obama administration suspended its decision to move the case to federal court. Finally, on April 4, 2011, Holder reversed course and announced that the co-defendants would be tried before a military commission in Guantanamo. 

In May 2012, al-Shibh and the other four co-defendants were arraigned in a military commission at Guantanamo. The case has been in pre-trial hearings ever since and a trial date likely is years away. The delay is the result of the military commissions system’s use of new rules that have not been tested, the US government’s decision to classify important evidence related to the defendants’ torture in CIA custody, and the commissions' remote location at Guantanamo, among other things. (Last updated August 9, 2018)


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