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Uncle Follows Nephew To NYC Court For Terror Trial

DEVLIN BARRETT

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Khalid Sheik Mohammed has acknowledged doing what his nephew Ramzi Yousef couldn't: toppling the World Trade Center towers.

He will soon be given a chance to repeat another of his nephew's endeavors: using a Manhattan federal courtroom as a pulpit to argue that he is a political prisoner in a war between the West and Islam.

Yousef was convicted of trying to destroy the World Trade Center in 1993 with a powerful bomb packed into a rental van. Mohammed is accused of fulfilling their shared dream in 2001, this time with hijacked airliners.

If Mohammed does follow the legal path set by Yousef, he may get his message out, but he would almost certainly seal his conviction with his own words, and could push jurors toward imposing the death penalty for his apocalyptic vision of violence.

"Yes, I am a terrorist and am proud of it," Yousef defiantly proclaimed at his 1998 sentencing at the same lower Manhattan federal court complex where his uncle is scheduled to appear in a matter of weeks or months.

Vincent M. Cannistraro, a former Central Intelligence Agency counterterrorism chief, said a trial of Mohammed in Manhattan "gives him an opportunity for political theater."

Mohammed spent several years in secret prisons run by the CIA before he was transferred to the detention center at Guantanamo in September 2006, and Cannistraro predicted Mohammed will "underline mistakes on the American part, particularly the harsh interrogation described as waterboarding."

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