Guantanamo detainees linked to the 9/11 attacks have accused the prison's guard force of sexual harassment for conducting so-called “groin searches.”
“We be under sexual harassment today for search in being here,” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said in broken English on Monday, before a war court session, the Miami Herald reported.
Four other alleged co-conspirators parroted Mohammed’s accusations of sexual harassment, with Ramzi bin al Shibh, an alleged deputy of the attacks, calling the search procedure a “sexual harassment search.”
The men are currently being held in Guantanamo’s Camp 7, a secretive site for high-value detainees. But despite the secrecy, the captives are given limited access to satellite news networks, possibly making them aware of the shifting attitudes toward sexual harassment in the U.S.
They voluntarily attended the first session of a seven-day set of pretrial hearings and were reminded by the judge, Army Col. James Pohl, that they can waive their attendance at any time. Alleged co-conspirator Mustafa al Hawsawi used the privilege and asked the judge to remove him from the proceedings.
According to the Herald, all five detainees are accused of helping the 19 hijackers who crashed planes in New York, at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 2,976 people.
Ever since the charges in 2012, the court has been holding pretrial hearings.
Prosecutor Bob Swann told the court that the prison had chosen Monday to implement procedures that allow physical groin searches. In the past, the military used scanners and other devices to see if prisoners from Camp 7 had something hidden in their groin area.
The judge ordered the prison to bring someone to court to explain the recent change in the search practices, possibly this week. Such searches were banned in 2013, but a higher court allowed physical groin searches to resume -- although most commanders use wands and other devices to search the groin area.