Military War Court

Showdown of 118 calls at 9/11 Military War Court

GUANTANAMO, CUBA – Humanity was jolted by 9/11, to witness a paradigm shift in racism and terrorism. Every other household in world, discussed why did 9/11 happen and who masterminded the deadly attacks?

The looming question, whether the United States was engaged in active war with al Qaeda on the day of 9/11 has prompted several motions on “absence of hostilities” for argument at the war court. As ruling by the military judge on absence of hostilities is not foreseeable, it shall long haunt the military commissions, as a question without an answer?

Whether the dark clouds emanated from the 9/11 attacks – could have been stopped or not, shall remain a mystery, the Ground Zero at the World Trade Center shall continue to mock the humanity till Armageddon – as the 9/11 victim families’ await justice, await the dawn of humanity!

The real showdown of justice will be the day when the trial date is set, and the jury shall set the stage for the most crucial 9/11 Military Commissions in the history of the United States.

The five accused in 9/11 attacks underwent 34th pre-trial hearing at the Expeditionary Legal Complex at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz – also known as Ammar al Baluchi, Ramzi bin al Shibh and Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi are charged jointly, in connection with their alleged roles in the 9/11 attacks against the United States.

They are being held as detainees at the Joint Task Force, GTMO detention facilities. Under high-security, Khalid Shaikh Mohammad and his 4 co-accused are brought to their holding cells at the Expeditionary Legal Complex in the wee hours of each pre-trial hearing.

Recently, at the Expeditionary Legal Complex, the Military Judge Colonel Keith Parrella of the Marines heard 34th pre-trial of the five accused in 9/11. The week’s trip scheduled was one full day open session and after a closed military court session, a half day was set for an open court session, again followed by closed session.

The background of the defense motions 574 G and AE 601 originates from the fact that the prosecutors of 9/11 Military Commissions handed over the record of covert 118 calls to the defense attorneys on 30th September 2016, which were kept away from the war court. This triggered the defense attorneys to argue about their rights under Protective Order # 3 and Confrontation Clause.

The record comprises of the original audio and transcripts of the 118 calls made before and soon after the 9/11 attacks, which were made between April 2001 to October 2001.

These calls were intercepted by the U.S. government in which they claimed “significant information” could be elicited from the calls purported to be made by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and three of his co-accused.

In a maverick styled motion, in an open court session on 25 March 2019, the military prosecutor Clay Trivett took to the podium of the war court to speak on behalf of the U.S. Government. He said that how they acquired the tapes remained a protected source and “revelation of its source would constitute a threat to national security.”

Clay Trivett, further added “the defense teams will get the chance in future at the trial stage to cross examine the FBI linguist and analyst for the validity of the 118 calls.” He also told the military court that the voice samples used by the linguist to identify the accused were not acquired during the CIA enhanced interrogation program.

Capital Defense Attorney James Connell, who is representing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s nephew Ammar al-Baluchi responded back with an eagle’s eye view by arguing that under the Protective Order #3, he is restricted from making any reference or asking any questions about “provenance (source) of the classified evidence.”

Further, James Connell added that the prosecutors secretly obtained a ruling in August 2018 from former military judge Army Colonel James Pohl barring the defense attorneys from learning how the record of the phone calls was obtained.

However, the mere existence of these 118 calls and the melodrama created by the trial counsel in handing the calls record to the defense teams, has triggered thoughts that “where was the archive of these 118 calls?”

Not only, question surrounds the calls’ archive domain, but has raised many questions towards the government as to why the calls made before 9/11, were not intercepted by the government?

The defense team of Ammar al Baluchi clarified in media talk that their client voice sample matched “one known phone call” which was verified by FBI Linguist and analyst.

Alka Pradhan, Civilian Defense Attorney of Ammar al Baluchi, further added, that the “content” of the calls cannot be discussed, however, admitted that the defense teams has access to the audio and transcripts of the translation of the phone calls made between April 2001 and October 2001.

These calls which were made before and after 9/11, were deemed to be found in two languages and defense team of Ammar al Baluchi declined to comment on the origin of the languages, which were later translated by FBI linguist and are now part of the audio record of the calls.

Ben Farley, defense attorney of Ammar al Baluchi said in media talk that they are in possession of the data of 27 calls, out of which only “one call” pertains to his client. In his remarks, Ben added that one phone call will not constitute a strong evidence against Ammar al Baluchi.

Further, Jay Connell said the most significant part of these 118 calls, is what the government could have known about the conspirators of the 9/11 and what could they have known as regards to the sources and methods used in stratifying these 118 calls from other hundreds of calls.

Connell in his media talk made a hand gesture of being “gagged” and told a reporter “it is me who is under GAG order” that restricts his defense team’s access to the classified information on the source of the 118 calls and ask the government about the investigation prior to 9/11 deadly attacks.

He further argued, under defense motion 601, in the war court about the Confrontation Clause which prohibits the right of his client, Ammar al Baluchi, as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, to challenge the evidence brought against him by the prosecutors.

In January 2017, victim family members, who were at that time allowed to speak to media, shared her feelings with the media that “justice delayed, is – justice denied.” Her brother, worked on 105th floor at the World Trade Center and went to work on September 9, 2001 but never returned home!

When Donald J. Trump took oath on 20th January 2017 as the 45th President of the United States, the victim family members made an appeal to President Trump to speed up the trials, so that justice is done to their beloveds’ souls.

The 9/11 victim families want justice and they look upon the government to speed up the military court trial and erase the irony of 9/11 war court being referred to as “forever trial.”

Hence, when the 9/11 war court proceedings shall get to the “trial stage”, who knows whether KSM and his four co-accused will be alive or kicked back from space by Captain Marvel.

The 118 calls showdown in the 9/11 military war court, will be a reminder that humanity is “gagged” and that we all need to wake up to our conscience, now or never!


Kanwal Abidi is a staff journalist at the The AZB, working as a White House Correspondent and Bureau Chief, Washington D.C.  She recently, covered in-person the 9/11 Military Commissions 34th pre-trial hearing held at ELC at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station.

Kanwal Abidi
Kanwal Abidi is a staff journalist at the The AZB and is a White House Correspondent.

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