Anger, sighs as 9/11 families watch terror hearing

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other defendants were arraigned on charges that include terrorism and murder.

New York: Lee Hanson became deeply angry as the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 attacks and co-defendants tried to undermine their arraignment on 3,000 counts of murder at a military court in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hanson`s son, daughter-in-law and two-year-old granddaughter, the youngest 9/11 victim, were killed in the terror attacks over a decade ago. All were aboard United Flight 175, the second plane to crash into the twin towers.

"They praise Allah. I say, `Damn you!`," said the silver-haired retiree from Eaton, Connecticut. When it comes to justice, "it seems like it`s an afterthought”, said his wife, Eunice Hanson.

Moans, sighs and exclamations erupted on Saturday as Hanson and other relatives of September 11 victims watched the closed-circuit TV feed of the court hearing from a movie theatre at Fort Hamilton in New York City.

It was one of four US military bases where the arraignment was broadcast live for victims` family members, survivors and emergency personnel who responded to the attacks.

"It`s actually a joke, it feels ridiculous," said Jim Riches, whose firefighter son, Jimmy, died at the World Trade Centre. "It looks like it`s going to be a very long trial."

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other defendants were arraigned on charges that include terrorism and murder, the first time in more than three years that they appeared in public. During the hearing, they generally refused to cooperate.

At one point, one detainee leafed through a copy of The Economist magazine, then passed it to another. At other times, the defendants knelt in prayer.

About 60 people representing 30 families were in the theatre at Fort Hamilton, where the military provided chaplains and grief counsellors, Riches said.

Several people who viewed the proceedings said they had little sympathy for the defendants` complaints about their treatment, given the brutality of the deaths of the nearly 3,000 victims of the attacks.