Plea negotiations are taking place at Guantanamo Bay with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants accused of orchestrating the attack.
Prosecutors are reportedly considering a deal that would see the defendants admit guilt in exchange for the death penalty being left off the table.
The legal case has been left on the back burner for years as conflict between fairness to the accused and deference to the Central Intelligence Agency’s secrets have made trials all but impossible.
“Negotiated agreements represent one path to ending military commissions, stopping indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay, and providing justice,” said attorney Alka Pradhan, who represents one of the defendants.
The terms may be different for each detainee, according to a person familiar with the matter. Those considered less directly connected to the plot may seek more lenient terms, including the possibility of release or serving their sentence in another country. Previous attempts to negotiate such deals were abandoned following political blowback and opposite from officials.
Efforts are being renewed due to a dramatic change in circumstances. The current administration is much more open to exploring new options. President Biden opposes both the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay and the death penalty.
Earlier this month, the US repatriated Mohammed al-Qahtani back to Saudi Arabia. He was the alleged 20th hijacker that would have been on United 93 had he not been refused entry by an immigration officer in Orlando. Charges against him were dismissed after finding he had been tortured while in military custody.