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US Drops Charges Against Alleged '20th Hijacker' in September 11 Attacks

By VOA News
13 May 2008

The United States has dropped charges against the alleged "20th hijacker" in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

U.S. military officials say the convening authority for military commissions, Susan Crawford, dismissed the charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani of Saudi Arabia without prejudice, meaning they can be filed again later.

Al-Qahtani's attorney, Army Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Broyles, told the Associated Press he could not comment on the reason for the dismissal until he discusses the case with lawyers for five other suspects charged in the attack.

U.S. prosecutors said al-Qahtani did not take part in the attacks because he was denied entry into the United States by an immigration agent.

Al-Qahtani has recanted a confession he made at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, alleging it was made after he was tortured and humiliated.

Prosecutors filed murder and war crimes charges in February against the suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the terror attack. The other suspects are Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi.

All of the men are being held at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay.

The September 11, 2001 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people after hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon outside Washington, and a field in the eastern state of Pennsylvania.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.



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