The Pentagon will begin distributing COVID-19 vaccines to Guantanamo Bay detainees, including Al Qaeda terrorists and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as early as next week, officials have confirmed.
Prosecutor Clayton Trivett Jr, who’s leading the case against five terrorists behind the September 11 attacks, made the disclosure in a letter to defense lawyers Thursday.
‘[A]n official in the Pentagon has just signed a memo approving the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine to the detainee population Guantánamo,’ he wrote, according to the New York Times.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is the mastermind behind the 9/11 terror plot that killed 2,976 Americans. He could receive his COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week under a new order approving inoculation efforts for Guantanamo Bay detainees
The shots will be administered on a ‘voluntary basis’ as per Pentagon policy, which requires the recipient’s consent on treatment that has not been fully approved by the FDA.
Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are currently authorized for emergency use only.
The US detention camp houses 40 detainees, all of whom could receive their first shot as early as Monday if they are willing, Trivett Jr said.
The vaccine rollout comes amid a shortage of doses that have hampered inoculation efforts across the US, where only 26million Americans have been vaccinated.
The US naval base in Guantanamo began inoculating its 6,000 residents earlier this month, however, detainees were not believed to have been included in the rollout.
The vaccination effort is reportedly intended to help resume legal proceedings for prisoners such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that have been delayed due to the pandemic.
It is unclear how many coronavirus cases have been detected at the facility, if any.
The vaccination effort is reportedly intended to help resume legal proceedings that have been delayed by the pandemic
The order was reportedly signed Wednesday by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Terry Adirim, a Biden appointee who was sworn in last week
Although it is unknown whether Mohammed will opt to be inoculated, the order means he could receive his jab ahead of millions of other Americans who are still awaiting for their turn in line.
Mohammed is said to be the architect behind the terror plot that killed 2,976 in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania on September 11.
Another three detainees with links to Al Qaeda are also expected to be prioritized due to their upcoming arraignments.
Encep Nurjaman, aka Hambali, Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep, and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, all members of Southeast Asia-based extremist group known as Jemaah Islamiyah, have been in US custody since 2003.
Meanwhile, millions of Americans are still waiting on their first dose following the sluggish rollout of the vaccine in December
Motorists line up for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Wednesday
The group is blamed for a string of bombings in Indonesia, including the 2002 bombings in Bali that killed 202 people. The three are also alleged to have links to Al Qaeda.
The vaccination effort at the facility will allow the trio to receive both doses of the vaccine ahead of their arraignment on February 22.
News of the order sparked outrage on Friday with critics questioning how accused terrorists could be prioritized ahead of the general US population.
‘So, the vaccine is going to be given to terrorists at Guantanamo Bay before you get it? Wow,’ one person tweeted.
‘Here is a trivia question. Who gets the vaccine first, a 74-year-old diabetic living in NE Philly or the guy who planned the 911 attack sitting in jail in Guantanamo bay?’ another wrote.
The order was signed Wednesday by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Terry Adirim, a Biden appointee who was sworn in last week, according to the New York Post reported.