Panama City man reflects on upcoming trial of 9/11 terrorist

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - "He was super funny, super smart, a good looking guy... fabulous singer," said Panama City resident Don Arias.

Twenty years after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 a trial has been set for one of the terrorists. Now one local resident whose brother died in the attacks has hope for justice.

Almost 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Arias' brother Adam was one of them.

"I gave him a call and he picked up the phone and, you know, I heard a lot of commotion in the background and he was like, 'Dude you're not going to believe what I'm seeing here'. He says, 'There's people jumping from the building next-door'," said Arias.

Now after 17 years of waiting and dozens of pre-trial hearings, Arias and his family may finally see justice. A judge announced the trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed will begin in January of 2021.

Arias said, "I mean, why are we taking decades to try these guys and the only answer is they've infused politics into this. I mean, we can work through the legal issues if people of good faith come together but I'm not convinced that the people who are involved in this trial and in this process are people of good faith."

But Arias said he has faith in Judge W. Shane Cohen, an Air Force Colonel who took over the case in June.

"So now we finally have a judge who's going to cut all that nonsense out and just say get on with it. Here are the milestones you have to meet and you've exhausted yourself for all these years on these silly motions- now it's time for a trial," he said.

Even with possible closure on the horizon, Arias said the pain he feels has not gotten easier. "They say time heals all wounds but not necessarily... as time goes on it actually gets worse," he said.

Copyright 2019 WJHG. All rights reserved.