U.S. Drops Charges Against '20th Hijacker'

The Pentagon announced today that charges have been dropped against a detainee at Guantanamo Bay who allegedly intended to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Five other accused 9/11 plotters are now on their way to trial at Guantanamo.

The Pentagon says Mohammed al-Qahtani, who is from Saudi Arabia, was supposed to be the 20th hijacker on 9/11.

The official in charge of overseeing Guantanamo's war court did not say why she rejected the charges against Qahtani. But the government reserved the right to charge him again in the future.

Back in February, military prosecutors recommended charges of murder and conspiracy against six men, including Qahtani. Now the Pentagon has referred charges against the other five for trial. Those trials are supposed to start at Guantanamo within four months.

The defendants include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known as KSM. He admitted to planning the attacks.

But defense lawyers will argue that KSM's confession cannot be used as evidence; they say he was tortured into confessing.

The CIA says that its coercive tactics stop just short of torture. U.S. officials have said Qahtani was subjected to harsh treatment, which was authorized by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press.

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