In addition to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Holder said the four other 9/11 suspects who will stand trial are Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsawi.
But the move carries huge risks. It opens the door to aggressive defense tactics that will seek to put the US government itself on trial for alleged lawless kidnappings and interrogations. It will trigger an array of fundamental constitutional challenges – including an argument that the last place on earth the 9/11 conspirators can receive a fair trial is New York City.
It carries risks that a trial in an open New York courtroom could provide an international stage for Mr. Mohammed to portray himself to the Muslim world as a hero and martyr who has endured torture and injustice at the hands of the US government in service to Islam. A guilty verdict and death sentence under those circumstances would only enhance his standing among some Muslims.
In announcing the decision to bring Mohammed and four others to New York, Holder also said the administration had designated five other Guantánamo detainees to stand trial before military commissions. The most important of those defendants is Abdal Rahim Al-Nashiri, who is accused of plotting and funding the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.
The announcements were made as part of a high-priority effort to make good on President Obama's pledge to close the Guantánamo detention camp by Jan. 22. But that pledge looks increasingly unlikely.