published : 2023-09-23

9/11 Defendant at Guantanamo Ruled Unfit for Trial Due to CIA Interrogation Techniques

Ramzi bin al-Shibh Diagnosed with Psychosis and PTSD

A photo of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the accused 9/11 planner, being escorted by Guantanamo Bay guards.

A 9/11 defendant held at Guantanamo Bay was ruled unfit to stand trial this week after he was diagnosed as psychotic with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by a military medical panel due to the effects of the CIA's 'enhanced interrogation' techniques years ago.

Col. Matthew McCall, a military judge, made the ruling late Thursday.

Ramzi bin al-Shibh, of Yemen, is accused of helping organize the 9/11 hijackers who commandeered four planes in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, leaving nearly 3,000 people dead on Sept. 11, 2001.

Pre-trial hearings for al-Shibh’s four co-defendants continued Friday. No trial date has been set.

Ramzi bin al-Shibh, an accused 9/11 planner being held at Guantanamo Bay, has been ruled unfit to stand trial because he has been diagnosed with PTSD and secondary psychosis.

The medical panel diagnosed Al-Shibh with PTSD and secondary psychosis last month. His defense attorney David Bruck said his best chance of being able to stand trial would be to undergo PTSD treatment.

An image of the military medical panel diagnosing Ramzi bin al-Shibh with PTSD and psychosis.

While in CIA custody for four years after he was arrested in 2002, Al-Shibh was sometimes made to stand for up to three days at a time wearing nothing but a diaper and was doused with cold water in air-conditioned rooms.

The medical panel found that Al-Shibh’s psychosis includes his false belief that his Guantanamo guards are attacking him with invisible rays to keep him from sleeping, which it connected to his CIA detention.

Defense attorneys and a U.N.-appointed investigator for the five defendants have argued they should have received physical and psychological treatment for after their CIA detention.

Earlier this month, President Biden declined to approve care for the defendants after defense lawyers said it was a condition of plea deals.

The administration said the president was unsettled by the thought of providing care and ruling out solitary confinement for the 9/11 defendants, given the historic scale of the attacks.

Al-Shibh, 51, was arrested in Pakistan a year after the attacks.

A photograph of defense attorney David Bruck discussing the ruling of Ramzi bin al-Shibh being unfit for trial due to his mental health conditions.

Bruck told the Associated Press that Friday’s ruling was the first time the U.S. government acknowledged 'the CIA torture program did profound and prolonged psychological harm to one of the people subjected to it.'

The CIA has said it ended its interrogation and detention program, which subjected 9/11 suspects to waterboarding, repeated rectal searches, beatings, and sleep deprivation, in 2009.

'They wrongfully tortured these individuals,' Bruce Eagleson, an advocate for 9/11 victims whose father died in the World Trade Center, said.

'We don't stand for torture. Because of that, we're denied a trial. We're denied true justice.'