Al Qaeda Chief Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Confesses to Planning
Sept. 11, Gitmo Transcript Shows
Posted: March 14, 2007
WASHINGTON — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed portrayed himself
as Al Qaeda's most ambitious operational planner in a confession
to a U.S. military tribunal that said he planned and supported
31 terrorist attacks, topped by Sept. 11, that killed thousands
of innocent victims since the early 1990s.
The gruesome attacks range from the suicide hijackings of Sept.
11, 2001 — which killed nearly 3,000 — to a 2002
shooting on an island off Kuwait that killed a U.S. Marine,
according to an account released by the Pentagon.
Many plots, including a previously undisclosed plan to kill
several former U.S. presidents, were never carried out or were
foiled by international counterterror authorities.
"I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z,"
Mohammed said in a statement read Saturday during a Combatant
Status Review Tribunal at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba. Mohammed's confession was read by a member of the
U.S. military who is serving as his personal representative.
The Pentagon released a 26-page transcript of the closed-door
proceedings on Wednesday night. Some material was omitted, and
it wasn't possible to immediately confirm details. The document
refers to locations for which the United States and other nations
have issued terrorism warnings based on what they deemed credible
threats from 1993 to the present.
Mohammed, known as KSM among government officials, was last
seen haggard after his capture in March 2003, when he was photographed
in a dingy white T-shirt with an over-stretched neck. He disappeared
for more than three years into a secret detention system run
by the CIA.
In his first public statements since his capture, his radical
ideology and self-confidence came through. He expressed regret
for taking the lives of children and said Islam doesn't give
a "green light" to killing.
Yet he finds room for exceptions. "The language of the
war is victims," he said.
He also said some people "consider George Washington as
hero. Muslims many of them are considering Usama bin Laden.
He is doing same thing. He is just fighting. He needs his independence."
In laying out his role in 31 attacks, his words drew Al Qaeda
closer to plots of the early 1990s than the group has previously
been linked, including the 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing
in which six people died.
Six people with links to global terror networks were convicted
in federal court and sentenced to life in prison for that attack.
Mohammed made clear that al-Qaida wanted to down a second trans-Atlantic
aircraft during would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid's operation.
And he confessed to the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter
Daniel Pearl in a section of the statement that was excised
from the public document, The Associated Press has learned.
Pearl was abducted in January 2002 in Pakistan while researching
a story on Islamic militancy. Mohammed has long been a suspect
in the slaying, which was captured on video.
President Bush announced that Mohammed and 13 other alleged
terror operatives had been moved from secret CIA prisons to
the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay last year. They are considered
the 14 most significant captures since 9/11.
The military began the hearings last Friday to determine whether
the 14 should be declared "enemy combatants" who can
be held indefinitely and prosecuted by military tribunals.
If the 14 are declared enemy combatants, as expected, the military
would then draft and file charges against them. The detainees
would be tried under the new military commissions law signed
by Bush in October.
The military barred reporters or other independent observers
from the sessions for the 14 operatives and is limiting the
information it provides about them, arguing that it wants to
prevent the disclosure of sensitive information.
Legal experts have criticized the U.S. decision, and The Associated
Press filed a letter of protest, arguing that it would be "an
unconstitutional mistake to close the proceedings in their entirety."
The transcripts refer to a claim by Mohammed that he was tortured
by the CIA, although he said he was not under duress at Guantanamo
when he confessed to his role in the attacks. The CIA has said
its interrogation practices are legal, and it does not use torture.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, questioned
the legality of the closed-door sessions and whether the confession
was actually the result of torture.
"We won't know that unless there is an independent hearing,"
he said. "We need to know if this purported confession
would be enough to convict him at a fair trial or would it have
to be suppressed as the fruit of torture?"
In listing the 28 attacks he planned and another three he supported,
Mohammed said he tried to kill international leaders including
Pope John Paul II, President Clinton and Pakistani President
He said he planned the 2002 bombing of a Kenya beach resort
frequented by Israelis and the failed missile attack on an Israeli
passenger jet after it took off from Mombasa, Kenya.
He also said he was responsible for the bombing of a nightclub
in Bali, Indonesia. In 2002, 202 were killed when two nightclubs
there were bombed.
Other plots he said he was responsible for included planned
attacks against the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Empire State
Building and New York Stock Exchange in New York City, the Panama
Canal, and Big Ben and Heathrow Airport in London — none
of which happened.
The Pentagon also released transcripts of the hearings of Abu
Faraj al-Libi and Ramzi Binalshibh. Both refused to attended
the hearings, although al-Libi submitted a statement claiming
that the hearings are unfair and that he will not attend unless
it is corrected.
"The detainee is in a lose-lose situation," he said.
Al-Libi, whose name means he is a Libyan, reportedly masterminded
two bombings 11 days apart in Pakistan in December 2003 that
targeted Musharraf for his support of the U.S.-led war on terror.
Binalshibh, a Yemeni, is suspected of helping Mohammed with
the Sept. 11 attack plan on New York City and Washington and
is also linked to a foiled plot to crash aircraft into London's
Heathrow Airport. His hearing was conducted in his absence.
Article at: foxnews.com