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9/11 suspects are defiant in military courtroom

Accused 9/1 1 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators put on a defiant show at their war court arraignment Saturday, refusing to listen to the proceedings through a headset, then refusing to answer the military judge's questions on whether they'd accepted their Pentagon-paid defense counsel.

At no time did they enter a plea.

The five men are accused of training, advising and financing the 19 hijackers who commandeered airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, and then crashed them into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, killing 2,976 people. All could get the death penalty, if convicted.

Appearing before the military court Saturday were:

*Mohammed, a Pakistani citizen who grew up in Kuwait and attended college in Greensboro, N.C. He is the self-confessed mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks "from A to Z," as well as about 30 other plots.

*Ramzi bin al Shibh, from Yemen, who was allegedly chosen to be a hijacker but couldn't get a U.S. visa. He allegedly located flight schools, and is also accused of organizing an al-Qaida cell in Hamburg, Germany.

*Walid bin Attash, also from Yemen, who allegedly ran an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan and researched flight simulators and timetables.

*Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, a Saudi, who is accused of helping the hijackers with money, Western clothing, traveler's checks and credit cards.

*Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, a Pakistani national and nephew of Mohammed, also allegedly provided money to the hijackers.

Presiding as judge over the proceedings was Army Col. James Pohl.

Mohammed stubbornly refused to answer the judge's questions throughout the morning proceedings, and with one exception his four alleged 9/1 1 plotters fell in right behind him. Some appeared to be reading the Quran rather than answering the judge's questions.

At another point, bin al Shibh got up from his defendant's chair and began to pray. He stood, arms crossed on his chest, then at one point got on his knees.

The defendants' behavior outraged 9/1 1 family members watching on closed-circuit video feeds around the United States at East Coast military bases.

"They're engaging in jihad in a courtroom," said Debra Burlingame, whose brother, Charles, was the pilot of the plane that flew into the Pentagon. She watched the proceeding from Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.

Defense lawyers said, alternately, that the men were protesting prison camp interference in the attorney-client relationship, something that happened that morning involving bin Attash's prosthetic leg during his transfer from his cell to the war court, and their treatment in years of CIA custody prior to their September 2006 arrival at Guantanamo.

"These men have been mistreated," declared civilian Pentagon-paid defense counsel Cheryl Borman, bin Attash's attorney, who specializes in death penalty cases.

At issue in the hearing was whether the accused 9/1 1 conspirators would accept their Pentagon-paid defense counsel, a key preliminary step to holding an arraignment.

The defense lawyers sought, first, to argue motions at the court alleging inadequate defense resources, prison camp interference in the attorney-client relationship and restrictive conditions imposed on their legal duties.

Pohl would have none of it. He insisted that the issue of appointment of counsel come first.

Then, one by one, the judge read a script to each of the accused, spelling out each man's right to a Pentagon-paid legal team. Pohl periodically asked each of the men whether he understood what was being said.

None replied, so he noted over and over again for the record, "accused refuses to answer." Then one by one, the judge unilaterally appointed their Pentagon-paid attorneys to defend them.