A charter plane carrying families of 9/11 victims who had been in Guantanamo Bay to watch the military commission proceedings against the five detainees accused of helping plot the attack had to make an impromptu landing in Miami Friday due to an engine issue, a defense official familiar with the incident told NBC News.
The 9/11 families were scheduled to fly aboard the private charter jet from Guantanamo Bay to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland when an oil pressure indicator light came on, according to a Federal Aviation Administration source.
The plane landed in Miami as a precaution. It wasn't immediately clear when the 9/11 families would continue to their destination.
The families had been in Cuba for pretrial hearings in the case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and four co-defendants: Ramzi Binalshibh, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Walid Bin Attash.
Authorities have portrayed the other defendants as Mohammed's underlings, who provided logistical and other help to the Sept. 11 hijackers. All five face the same charges, which include terrorism, conspiracy and 2,976 counts of murder in violation of the law of war, one count for each known 9/11 victim at the time the charges were filed.
The case is considered one of the most significant terror prosecutions in U.S. history. All defendants could get the death penalty if convicted at a trial that is about a year away.