The suspected perpetrator of the September 11, 2001 attack and several other defendants could avoid the death penalty by considering grievance agreements, according to a Pentagon-FBI letter to families.
The letter was sent by federal authorities to several families of the thousands of people killed in the September 11 attacks. This comes a year and a half after military prosecutors and defense attorneys began looking for a possible solution to the case.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others are being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The case was hampered and delayed, particularly because of the legal issues surrounding the tortured interrogation the men were subjected to while in CIA custody.
“The Attorney General's Office has been conducting negotiations and is considering entering into pre-trial agreements,” the letter reads.
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It goes on to say that an appeal agreement has not yet been finalized: “…and may never be finalized, it is possible that a PTA would eliminate the possibility of the death penalty in this case.”
The letter, which some family members received, is dated August 1 and urges them to send their thoughts on a settlement to FBI Victim Services by Monday.
According to the 9/11 Commission, Mohammed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden proposed the idea of an attack on the United States. The four other defendants are said to have assisted the kidnappers in a variety of ways.
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2,977 people died as a result of the September 11 attacks, when two planes hit the World Trade Center and another the Pentagon. A fourth plane was en route to Washington, DC but crashed in Pennsylvania.
Jim Riches, who lost his son who was a firefighter during 9/11, said he laughed bitterly when he opened the letter.
“How can you believe that?” Riches said, adding that the update “gives us little hope.”
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“No matter how many letters they send, until I see it, I won't believe it,” Riches said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.