NBC News reports that the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks will be tried in a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay and not in federal court in Manhattan, just blocks from the World Trade Center site.
The Justice Department was expected to make the announcement today.
The Obama administration’s announcement in 2009 that it would seek to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other four suspects in civilian court was met with fierce opposition from many elected officials, families of victims and those who live and work in Lower Manhattan, who would have had to contend with several rings of heavy security for the months of the trial.
The decision to try them at a U.S. naval base in Guantanamo instead is a victory for Mayor Bloomberg.
The mayor had supported the trial in New York at first, but then reversed himself and came out against it, citing the cost of providing security would be too much for the city to bear. He had put the figure at $200 million a year, but never provided details on what that included.
Bloomberg told reporters at an event in the Bronx on Monday that the city could have accommodated the trial, but prefers that it won’t be held in federal court.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly had also spoken out against trying the suspects in New York, saying at one point it would increase the threat of another terror attack.
The federal government had promised it would pay back the city for security costs, but would not have compensated business owners or others who would have been inconvenienced by the trial.
After pressure and opposition from Bloomberg and others, Attorney General Eric Holder shelved the plan last year, saying the White House was reviewing the decision.
Raising security concerns, conservative Republicans staunchly oppose trials in civilian courts inside the United States for terrorism suspects, saying they should be tried instead before military commissions at Guantanamo Bay.
The Obama administration had said that both civilian courts and military commissions should be available for such trials, pointing to the fact that dozens of terrorism-related cases have been handled in civilian courts.
Critics of the administration’s initial approach also argued that trials in civilian courts run a greater risk of acquittals than in military courts because of rules of evidence and rights afforded to suspects.