Military judge probing if 9/11 ringleader intimidated others

A military judge Tuesday said he would explore whether reputed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed bullied his alleged co-conspirators into firing their lawyers, and next week will question each of the men accused of plotting the 2001 terrorist attacks.

At issue was whether Mohammed, who has boasted he plotted the 9/11 attacks ''from A to Z,'' was a puppet master, a Svengali of sorts, at their June 5 arraignment at the U.S. Navy Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, the judge, notified lawyers in a six-page order that he would hold the special hearings starting July 9.

Out of earshot of the others, the judge said he would ''address the issue of what role, if any, perceived or actual, intimidation between the several accused [conspirators] played or is playing'' in their united stand to spurn Pentagon defense lawyers.

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