Accused 9-11 mastermind says 'Allah' will defend him

The Miami HeraldSeptember 24, 2009 

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — Accused al Qaeda kingpin Khalid Sheik Mohammed tried to fire his free-of-charge defense attorneys earlier this year in a letter made public Tuesday that declared Allah would defend him.

Mohammed, 44, is accused of masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed 2,974 people in a mass murder case that seeks to execute him and four alleged co-conspirators.

His military judge on Monday left the defense team intact until Nov. 16 while the Obama administration chooses either military or federal trials for the alleged 9/11 plotters.

In a motion on March 13, Mohammed wrote that he wanted to dismiss his Pentagon defense lawyer, Army Lt. Col. Michael Acuff, and Boise, Idaho, criminal defense attorneys David Nevin and Scott McKay.

"I believe that Allah is sufficient to defend me," he wrote.

"I wish to represent myself without the assistance of any lawyers."

A court security officer declassified the two-page document April 3. But the judge, Col. Stephen Henley, only authorized its release after Monday's hearing.

The American Civil Liberties Union has spent more than $3.5 million providing legal defense experts to Guantánamo detainees facing death penalty charges to help Pentagon-paid lawyers grapple with the complexity of a capital criminal defense.

Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times in CIA custody, has resisted all American defense attorneys.

He has also bragged of his role in the 9/11 attacks, and with his co-accused called the allegations against him "badges of honor."

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