The alleged architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack and several other defendants could avoid the death penalty under contemplated plea deals, according to a letter to the Pentagon and FBI families.
The letter was sent by federal agencies to several families of the thousands of people killed in the September 11 attacks. It comes a year and a half after military prosecutors and defense attorneys began considering a potential resolution to the case.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other people are being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The case was hampered and delayed, particularly due to the legal issues of the torture interrogation the men suffered while in CIA custody.
“The Attorney General’s Office has negotiated and is considering entering into pretrial agreements,” the letter said.
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He goes on to say that a plea deal has not been finalized “…and may never be finalized, it is possible that a PTA in this case will remove the possibility of the death penalty.”
The letter, which was received by some family members, is dated Aug. 1 and asks them to respond by Monday to FBI Victim Services with their thoughts on a plea deal.
Mohammed reportedly presented the idea of an attack on the United States to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, according to the 9/11 Commission. The other four defendants allegedly supported the hijackers in several ways.
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2,977 people died as a result of the 9/11 attack when two planes hit the World Trade Center and another hit the Pentagon. A fourth plane was heading to Washington, DC but crashed in Pennsylvania.
Jim Riches, who lost his son who was a firefighter during 9/11, said he laughed bitterly as he opened the letter.
“How can you believe it?” Riches said, adding that the update “gives us little hope.”
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“No matter how many letters they send, until I see it, I won’t believe it,” Riches said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.