Official: N.Y. terror trial still possible

Feb. 2, 2010 at 11:31 AM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A U.S. Justice Department official said New York hasn't been totally ruled out as the site for trying the alleged Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack mastermind.

Comments by Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler counter recent reports government officials have all but dropped New York as the location for the trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of attack, and four alleged co-conspirators, the New York Daily News reported Tuesday.

"We haven't made a final decision and it's not off the table," Grindler said during a briefing Monday.

Grindler said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was committed to the trial being conducted in federal court rather than before a military commission, as several lawmakers have argued.

"Our federal courts have a long history of safely and securely handling international terrorism cases and we are committed to bringing Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the other alleged Sept. 11 conspirators to justice," Grindler said.

He said federal officials are "consulting with state and local authorities to evaluate cost issues and security issues" of having the trial a few blocks from where the Twin Towers fell after being rammed by two hijacked jetliners.

Federal law enforcement sources told the Daily News the Justice Department was looking for alternate venues before New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the city's congressional delegation objected last week to holding the trial in Manhattan. Other published reports also indicated plans to conduct the civilian trial in New York would be scrapped.

In Washington, Republican congressional members have introduced legislation that would block funding for such a trial.

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