9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed dropped his legal defense and demanded the death penalty at his Guantanamo Bay arraignment hearing Thursday morning.
U.S. military judge Marine Col. Ralph Kolman asked Mohammed if he understood he would be executed if convicted for his role in organizing largest ever terrorist attack on American soil. "Yes, this is what I wish, to be a martyr for a long time," Mohammed told Kohlman. "I will, God willing, have this, by you."
Making sure Mohammed understood, Kohlmann asked again, “So you could be sentenced to death?”
Kolhmann got an angry retort. "Maybe you didn't understand what I said," he said. "Military forces are still in Iran and Afghanistan. They are still in our holy land. I am not talking about your American Constitution … your evil law. I am talking about God's law."’
In March 2007, Mohammed took credit for the 9/11 terrorist attacks “from A to Z” in a written statement. Prosecutors have been trying to schedule a formal trial for Mohammed this September, but progress has been riddled with legal challenges pertaining to the use of torture on Guantanamo Bay detainees and their rights under the Geneva Convention.
Reporters were given access to the arraignment hearing, the first time the press has been allowed to see Mohammed. Some of them were unnerved by the proceedings. CBS Correspondent Bob Orr, who covered the event, blogged, “You can pick your own word: bizarre … eerie … creepy. I settled on surreal
Mohammed seemed to be aware of the controversy surrounding his fate and was adamant about refusing legal advice from American lawyers, “I cannot accept any attorney who is not governed by sharia [Islamic] law. I will represent myself,” he said. “I will not be represented by anybody even if he is a Muslim, because he will be sworn to your American Constitution. I consider all the U.S. Constitution and laws evil. They are allowing for same-sexual marriages and many things that are very bad … Do you understand what I said?"
According to reports, the terrorist interrupted the judge several times and even sang holy verses in Arabic. In English, Mohammed complained about being tortured and not having “rights.” "It's an inquisition, not a trial!" he said. "We under five years were under torture. We don't have rights to anything. After all this torturing, they transfer us to inquisitionland in Guantánamo."
After the hearing concluded the ACLU rushed to Mohammed’s defense. “It hardly comes as any surprise that after holding individuals in solitary confinement for five years and subjecting them to torture, these detainees would reject the legal system and offers to represent them,” a statement from ACLU said.