U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators are being referred to a military commission to stand trial.
The decision is a switch from the earlier plan to try the five alleged plotters in a civilian federal court in New York City. There has been widespread opposition to a civilian court trial, and Congress passed legislation which prohibits bringing any detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States.
Holder says the government cannot any longer delay bringing the five men to justice. Holder announced the earlier plan for a trial in New York City in November 2009.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), head of the House Homeland Security Committee, said "The attorney general is finally doing the right thing. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed belongs in a military tribunal and not in a court in lower Manhattan."
In a statement, Sen. Charles Schumer called the decision "the final nail in the coffin of that wrongheaded idea."
"I have always said that the perpetrators of this horrible crime should get the ultimate penalty, and I believe this proposal by the administration can make that happen," Schumer said.
Holder first announced the Obama administration's decision to hold a civilian trial in Manhattan in late 2009. That was met by a large outcry from many in the area of the borough which would be impacted by the security arrangements needed to handle the trial.
Police estimated that security costs would amount to more than $200 million, a cost that Washington promised to cover.
Police also said there would be significant street closings in the area around the courthouse, something that would impact local residences and businesses.
"The initial decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in lower Manhattan was probably the worst decision by an attorney general," King said.
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg couldn't be immediately reached for comment.