By Joe Valiquette
MANHATTAN — Although the Manhattan federal court trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others on 9/11-related charges has yet to be scheduled — and, according to some legal experts, may be more than a year off — the New York City law enforcement community is already in high gear as it prepares for the event.
The FBI confirmed to DNAinfo.com that it is forming a new multi-agency squad, tentatively called the "Trial Squad," within its Joint Terrorism Task Force to assist in the prosecutions of the 9/11 defendants.
The new squad will include agents, analysts and other personnel who have a wide variety of experience working on major trials and investigations. Many of the squad members have participated in the 9/11 investigation since its beginning, and some were involved in previous high-profile investigations and trials, including those of Ramzi Yousef and Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the Blind Sheikh, according to FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko.
"The squad will function as a task force with members from the NYPD, Port Authority PD, FDNY and several other agencies," Kolko said. "Their role will be to provide investigative support throughout the legal proceedings."
In addition, law enforcement officials say that planning is well underway to create and implement the kind of comprehensive security plan needed for a high profile trial in a city proven to be at the top of Al Qaeda's target list.
Last week U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made an unannounced visit to New York City to receive briefings from law enforcement officials regarding security planning. Holder visited the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where the 9/11 defendants will most likely be held, and the federal courthouse, both in lower Manhattan.
Holder's meeting with FBI Assistant Director Joseph Demarest, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and U.S. Marshal Joseph Guccione was "to discuss coordination, cooperation and security for the potential upcoming trials of the 9/11 terrorists," Kolko said.
According to law enforcement officials, there will be an ongoing series of security and threat assessment meetings among federal, state and New York City law enforcement agencies and the U.S. intelligence community.