This text was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Heart on Disaster Reporting.
GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — Navy prosecutors say they’ve tapes of phone calls between the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 assaults, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and three of his accused co-conspirators speaking in code concerning the plot months earlier than it occurred, a protection lawyer disclosed on Monday.
The lawyer, Jay Connell, revealed the existence of the tapes as a part of a protest over plans to make use of them as proof on the dying penalty trial of the alleged conspirators. Greater than 17 and a half years after the assaults — by which 19 hijackers commandeered 4 business airplanes and crashed them into the World Commerce Heart, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania subject, killing almost 3,000 folks — there may be nonetheless no date set for the trial within the proceedings at Guantánamo Bay.
Prosecutors gave protection legal professionals the unique audio and transcripts of their translation on Sept. 30, 2016, Mr. Connell mentioned, and made clear they deliberate to make use of them at trial. Protection legal professionals sought to research their origins and later found that the unique trial choose, Military Col. James L. Pohl, had issued a secret order stopping them from figuring out concerning the telephone name assortment system or asking questions on it.
Mr. Connell, who’s representing Mr. Mohammed’s nephew, Ammar al-Baluchi, mentioned that prosecutors secretly obtained a ruling in August 2018 from Colonel Pohl forbidding protection legal professionals from studying how the telephone calls have been collected or investigating that query. The telephone calls in at the very least two languages have been made between April and October 2001.
Mr. Connell mentioned the restriction on investigating the origins of the tapes violated a defendant’s primary proper to problem the proof getting used in opposition to him. He argued in courtroom on Monday that the proof ought to be suppressed or that the case ought to be dismissed. He mentioned the constraints the protection faces concerning the tapes violate the Sixth Modification, which units out the rights of defendants in a trial.
The army trial judges have but to resolve, nevertheless, which elements of the Structure apply on the army commissions, the struggle courtroom established by President George W. Bush after the terrorist assaults.
A prosecutor, Clayton Trivett, responded that protection legal professionals can be allowed to query an F.B.I. linguist who in contrast samples of the voices of the defendants to the voices on the tapes to verify they have been Mr. Mohammed, Mr. al-Baluchi and two different alleged plotters.
Mr. Trivett mentioned protection legal professionals can be allowed to query an F.B.I. analyst who decoded the dialog. The one restriction, he mentioned, is on protection legal professionals making an attempt to research “how the US authorities acquired these calls,” one thing prosecutors persuaded the choose would endanger nationwide safety.
Colonel Pohl had mentioned prosecutors may describe the proof as having been acquired from “phone calls from between April and October 2001 that have been later decided to pertain to the deliberate assaults on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Terry McDermott, co-author of “The Hunt for KSM,” mentioned his analysis discovered that United States satellites “randomly scooped up” calls between Mr. Mohammed and an alleged deputy, Ramzi bin al-Shibh. “The N.S.A. intercepted calls however didn’t hearken to them or translate them till after 9/11,” he mentioned. “Afterward, they went by means of these items and came upon what it was.”
Mr. Trivett didn’t disclose how or when the F.B.I. acquired voice samples of the accused plotters. Mr. Connell questioned in courtroom whether or not they have been recorded throughout the years that Mr. Mohammed and the opposite the defendants have been held within the C.I.A.’s secret jail system.
Mr. Trivett introduced that the samples weren’t from the C.I.A. black websites the place the 5 alleged plotters have been held earlier than they have been dropped at Guantánamo for trial in 2006.
This week a brand new army choose, Col. Keith Parrella of the Marines, is listening to legal professionals and prosecutors argue within the 34th spherical of pretrial hearings for the reason that 5 males have been arraigned in 2012.