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9/11 defendant in camouflage in Guantanamo court

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — The self-styled terrorist mastermind of Sept. 11 wore a camouflage vest for the first time Wednesday at his military war crimes tribunal, a clothing choice previously denied because of fears it might disrupt the court.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has told authorities he was behind the hijacking plot, wore the woodland-style camouflage vest with a white tunic and turban at a pretrial hearing at the US base in Guantanamo, Cuba.

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The 47-year-old prisoner’s attire had no apparent effect on the proceedings. Mohammed, who did not attend the first part of the morning court session, sat quietly at the defense table. He made no statements, and no one in the court mentioned his clothing.

Mohammed considers himself a prisoner of war, and he wanted the same right to wear a uniform as the Japanese and German troops prosecuted for war crimes after World War II, according to his lawyers.

But when he and a codefendant sought to wear camouflage items at their May 5 arraignment, their request was denied. At the time, the commander of the Guantanamo Bay prison said the camouflage might make it harder for the military prison guards to gain control of the prisoners if necessary, suggesting the clothing make it more difficult to tell the difference between inmates and fellow troops.

Most of Wednesday’s hearing dealt with security rules that the government has proposed to prevent the inadvertent release of classified information.

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