Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind, and four other Guantánamo Bay detainees will face trial in a civilian federal court in lower Manhattan, blocks from where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Attorney General Eric Holder also announced Friday that he will seek the death penalty. From Tokyo, where he is visiting Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, President Obama said he was "absolutely convinced" that Mohammed "will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice." A handful of other detainees, including accused U.S.S. Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri will face military commissions, possibly in South Carolina. The endeavor is key part of President Obama's plan to close Guantánamo Bay. The trials of the alleged 9/11 terrorists could force the court system to confront legal quagmires surrounding counter-terrorism programs begun in 2001, such as harsh interrogation tactics. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in 2003 before the practice was banned. The 9/11 prisoners won't head to New York to face justice for many weeks, however, because they do not yet have formal charges filed against them.
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