Bid to hold 9/11 terror trial in New York fails
White House officials have told the US Department of Justice to move the trial of five men accused of plotting the September 11 attacks away from New York.
In an embarrassing climb-down for the administration, sources said that US Attorney General Eric Holder was now examining alternatives such as a federal court in Virginia or military bases.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg; the city's police chief, Raymond Kelly; and various business groups had said that they did not want the trial to take place in Manhattan.
By staging the trial in a conventional criminal court just blocks from where the Twin Towers were brought down in 2001, US President Barack Obama intended to make a statement about how his handling of justice and terrorism issues differed from the George W Bush era.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, and four other al-Qa'ida members were due to be moved from Guantanamo Bay for trial some time this year.
Officials had pointed out that other terrorism trials have been held in criminal courts with little difficulty since 2001.
Though cautiously supportive at first, Mr Bloomberg changed his mind after Mr Kelly warned him that security, mainly in the form of police overtime, could cost e145bn a year.
Victims' relatives also feared the defendants would use the criminal courts as soap boxes. (© Daily Telegraph, London)