Khalid Sheik Mohammed Confesses . . . to Everything
Khalid Sheik Mohammed has signed a two page confession taking responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and dozens of other terrorist operations in a hearing at Guantanamo Bay over the weekend.
Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, confessed at a Guantanamo Bay military hearing that he planned and funded that al-Qaeda operation and said he was involved in more than two dozen other terrorist acts around the world, according to documents released by the Pentagon yesterday.
In a rambling statement delivered Saturday to a closed-door military tribunal, Mohammed declared himself an enemy of the United States and claimed some responsibility for many of the major terrorist attacks on U.S. and allied targets over more than a decade. He said that he is at war with the United States and that the deaths of innocent people are an unfortunate consequence of that conflict. “I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z,” Mohammed told a panel of military officers through a personal representative, who read off a list of 31 terrorist acts that were either carried out or planned but not executed. According to transcripts released by Defense Department officials last night, Mohammed later spoke in broken English and Arabic, saying, “For sure, I’m American enemies.”
Mohammed took responsibility for the attacks on New York and Washington in an interrogation detailed in the Sept. 11 commission’s report. But his appearance before the tribunal at Guantanamo Bay marked the first time since his March 2003 arrest that he was allowed to make an extended statement that was not delivered to interrogators.
In a rambling statement, Mr. Mohammed, a chief aide to Osama bin Laden, said his actions were part of a military campaign. “I’m not happy that 3,000 been killed in America,” he said in broken English. “I feel sorry even. I don’t like to kill children and the kids.”
He added, “The language of war is victims.”
Though American officials had linked Mr. Mohammed to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and to several others, his confession was the first time he spelled out in his own words a panoply of global terror activities, ranging from plans to bomb landmarks in New York City and London to assassination plots against former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II. Some of the plots he claimed to plan, including the attempt on Mr. Carter, had not previously been publicly disclosed.
Mr. Mohammed indicated in the transcript that some of his earlier statements to C.I.A. interrogators were the result of torture. But he said that his statements at the tribunal on Saturday were not made under duress or pressure.
His actions, he said, were like those of other revolutionaries. Had the British arrested George Washington during the Revolutionary War, Mr. Mohammed said, “for sure they would consider him enemy combatant.”
He apparently stopped short of claiming credit for killing the czar and his ministers, and shooting either the sheriff or his deputy.
The story is creating a major blogstorm and is obviously news. Still, I’m not sure what to make of it. He has been in American custody nearly four years, without access to an attorney, and claims to have been subjected to torture. I’m just not sure how seriously to take his claim of responsibility for the 9/11 attack, let alone for all the other crimes. That he’s a liar is a given; that he’s insane, a distinct possibility.
Indeed, even Robert Spencer concedes Mohammed may be “displaying a bit of jihadi braggadocio.”
Andrew Cochran has links to the transcripts of the interviews by the Defense Department of Mohammed and the other two most senior Al Qaeda leaders in custody, Abu Faraj al-Libi and Ramzi Binalshibh. He provides no analysis.