A military judge on Thursday halted proceedings against Ramzi Binalshibh, a self-described key operative in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, ordering that he undergo a mental examination and throwing into doubt whether the government will ever be able to prosecute the “high-value” detainee.
More than a decade after the attacks, none of the five accused al-Qaeda plotters in U.S. custody — including the confessed mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed — has been brought to trial, their cases repeatedly stymied by legal problems and political wrangling. The latest delay raises questions about whether the CIA’s handling of Binalshibh while he was in the agency’s secret overseas prisons contributed to his ongoing mental problems.
The judge’s order Thursday followed a series of outbursts by Binalshibh at a pretrial military commission hearing this week at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and is another blow to a proceeding that has stopped and started across two administrations. It now may be many months, if not years, before the defendants are tried.
Prosecutors asked the judge, Army Col. James Pohl, to have Binalshibh, a 41-year-old Yemeni, evaluated after he was repeatedly ejected from court for refusing to quiet down and calling the judge and the commander of the detention facility war criminals.