Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was one of the suspected 9/11 plotters who said that recent groin searches are sexual harassment. (AP PHOTO/WWW.MUSLM.NET)
Suspected 9/11 attackers claimed that physical groin searches at Guantanamo Bay were “sexual harassment” as their long-running legal case enters a new year.
Khalid Sheik Mohammed is accused with four others of planning the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, with prosecutors saying that they trained the 19 hijackers.
Mohammed was captured in a raid in Pakistan in 2003, held and tortured at a secret CIA prison and then transferred in 2006 to Guantanamo Bay, where there are still years of expected wait before his case reaches trial.
“We be under sexual harassment today for search in being here,” he said in court on Monday, according to a Miami Herald report from the notorious military prison in Cuba.
The other four suspected attackers, Walid bin Attash, Ammar al Baluchi, Mustafa al Hawsawi and Ramzi bin al Shibh, reportedly agreed with Mohammed’s claim using similar language.
A prosecutor answered that a new procedure had authorized guards to conduct physical groin searches, which were previously done with scanners or metal-detecting wands.
Complaints over genital-touching have been made by other Guantanamo detainees, though the Herald report notes that TV access at the prison makes it likely that inmates are aware of recent allegations of sexual assault and harassment in American society that have formed the Me Too movement.
The searches were stopped after a federal court order in 2013, but resumed after an appeal.
One of the detainees, Hawsawi, also needed reconstructive surgery after he was subject to what the 2014 Senate report on CIA torture called “rectal rehydration,” which his lawyer calls sodomy, while at a black site.
Mohammed was also subject to the tactic, and as waterboarded close to 200 times in a month.
It has been more than 16 years since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, which killed 2,983 people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Charges against the detainees were brought by the George W. Bush administration at the military tribunal in 2008.
Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder tried to bring a trial to Manhattan federal court before returning to the tribunal amid opposition.
The suspected plotters face the death penalty if convicted.