Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Family members of those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks will get the opportunity to watch the arraignment of five men accused of training and funding the hijackers — including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed — at the Fort Hamilton army base in Brooklyn.
Fort Hamilton is the only site in the 5 boroughs where families can watch the military commission’s proceedings from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on live, closed circuit TV.
There are several similar sites set up at other U.S. military bases, such as Fort Meade in Maryland and Fort Devens in Massachusetts.
Jim Riches, a retired FDNY deputy fire chief, lost his firefighter son, Jimmy, when the towers collapsed. He plans to be in Brooklyn to view the proceedings.
Riches has also applied for a lottery to be among family members chosen to attend any future trial at Guantanamo Bay, but for now he’ll watch locally.
He said he doesn’t expect what he sees on Saturday to be easy, but he and the other families have waited too long for the arraignment and eventual trial. “Justice delayed is justice denied and we’ve been denied justice for eleven years.”
While he hopes that justice is served, he doesn’t expect to feel better once the trial is over.
“Every day I wake up, I miss Jimmy. He’s not going to walk back in that room. He missed the birth of my grandchildren and he never got married, “ Riches said. “It’s so sad. It’s good that the people involved will be held accountable but there will never be closure.”
Talat Hamdani lost her 23-year-old son, a police cadet, in the attacks. She doesn’t plan to attend the arraignment viewing at Fort Hamilton because it’s too far from her home in Suffolk County — and she doubts that justice can be served in the military tribunal.
“Had these trials taken place in a federal court in Manhattan, I would have attended the hearings. I wanted to ask these terrorists why did they do this, especially in the name of my faith, Islam. They not only took snatched my 23- year-old son, Mohammad Salman Hamdani,” she said, “they took away the integrity and dignity of my faith.”
Department of Defense spokesman David Oten said many family members have expressed anger and frustration with how long the process has taken to bring the defendants to trial. He added grief counselors will be on hand at all the base viewing sites.
About 30 credentialed family members are expected to attend the Fort Hamilton arraignment viewing, which begins at 9 a.m.