Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (Arabic: خالد شيخ محمد; also transliterated as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and additionally known by at least fifty aliases) (born March 1, 1964, or April 14, 1965) is a Pakistani in U.S. custody, in Guantamano Bay for alleged acts of terrorism, including mass murder of civilians. He was charged on February 11, 2008, with war crimes and murder by a U.S. military commission and faces the death penalty if convicted.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was a member of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization, although he lived in Kuwait rather than Afghanistan, heading al-Qaeda's propaganda operations from sometime around 1999. The 9/11 Commission Report alleges that he was "the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks." He is also alleged to have confessed to a role in many of the most significant terrorist plots over the last twenty years, including the World Trade Center 1993 bombings, the Operation Bojinka plot, an aborted 2002 attack on the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, the Bali nightclub bombings, the failed bombing of American Airlines Flight 63, the Millennium Plot, and the murder of Daniel Pearl.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on March 1, 2003, by the Pakistani ISI, possibly in a joint action with agents of the American Diplomatic Security Service, and has been in U.S. custody since that time. In September 2006, the U.S. government announced it had moved Mohammed from a secret prison to the facility at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The Red Cross, Human Rights Watch and Mohammed have claimed that the harsh treatment and waterboarding he received from U.S. authorities amounts to torture.
In March 2007, after four years in captivity, including six months of detention and alleged torture at Guantanamo Bay, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — as it was claimed by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing in Guantanamo Bay — confessed to masterminding the September 11 attacks, the Richard Reid shoe bombing attempt to blow up an airliner over the Atlantic Ocean, the Bali nightclub bombing in Indonesia, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and various foiled attacks.
On December 8, 2008, Mohammed and four co-defendants sent a note to the military judge expressing their desire to confess and plead guilty.
Mohammed in an undated photo
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is reported to have been born in Kuwait to parents from Balochistan in Pakistan. He spent some of his formative years in Kuwait, just like his nephew, Ramzi Yousef (three years his junior). He joined the Muslim Brotherhood at age sixteen. He returned to Pakistan soon after, and after spending some time there, went to the United States for further study.
He attended Chowan University, a small Baptist school in Murfreesboro, North Carolina, for a semester (beginning in 1983) before transferring to the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and completing a degree in mechanical engineering in 1986. The following year he went to Afghanistan, where he and his brothers (Zahed, Abed, and Aref) fought against the Soviet Union during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. (Some sources claim that Khalid was fighting in Afghanistan before he moved to the United States.) There, he was introduced to Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, of the Islamic Union Party. The 9/11 Commission Report notes on page 149 that "Sayyaf was close to Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Afghan Northern Alliance".
The 9/11 Commission Report also notes that, "By his own account, KSM's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."
However, according to a U.S. intelligence summary reported on August 29, 2009 by the Washington Post, his time in the U.S did lead him to become a terrorist. "KSM's limited and negative experience in the United States — which included a brief jail stay because of unpaid bills — almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist," according to this intelligence summary. "He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country."
According to the 9/11 Commission, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after the Afghan jihad went to work for an electronics company, working on communications equipment. In 1988, he helped to head a non-governmental organization paid for by Abu Sayyaf, which sponsored and aided Afghan fighters against the Soviets. He continued this work until 1992, when he fought with Muslim fighters in Bosnia and Herzegovina and supported this effort financially. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed moved to Qatar to work in a government office as a project engineer for the Qatari Ministry of Electricity and Water. He stayed at this job until 1996.
While he was in the Philippines in late 1994 and early 1995, he said that he was a Saudi or a Qatari plywood exporter and used the aliases Abdul Majid and Salem Ali.
According to Philippine police, a waitress named Arminda Costudio at the Manila Bay Club in Pasay City claimed that she met a man who introduced himself as Qatari businessman Salem Ali, who she believes was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, based on his fattened middle finger — a feature that Abdul Hakim Murad has also described. She said she met the man twice at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City in mid-1994. Each time, he wore a white tuxedo and paid for dinner with a wad of cash. He gave out candies to group members. Costudio later became the girlfriend of Wali Khan Amin Shah while he was in Metro Manila.
Main article: Bosnian War
News agency Adnkronos reports Khalid Sheik Mohammed traveled to Bosnia in September 1995, and worked there, under an assumed name, for Egyptian Relief, as a humanitarian aid worker. Quoting a Sarajevo paper called Daily Fokus, they reported local intelligence officials confirmed he obtained Bosnian citizenship in November 1995. Those officials told Daily Fokus that Egyptian Relief was a front for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qatar, avoiding arrest
In early 1996 he fled to Pakistan to avoid capture by U.S. authorities.In his flight from Qatar he was sheltered by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalid Al-Thani, who was the Qatari Minister of Religious Affairs in 1996.
Alleged terrorist activities
World Trade Center 1993 bombings
Main article: World Trade Center 1993 bombings
This attack was planned by a group of conspirators including Ramzi Yousef, Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammad Salameh, Nidal Ayyad and Ahmad Ajaj. They received financing from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
Main article: Operation Bojinka
After seeing the respect that Ramzi Yousef had gained from the World Trade Center 1993 bombings, Mohammed decided to engage more directly in anti-U.S. activities as well. He traveled to the Philippines in 1994 to work with Yousef on Operation Bojinka, a Manila-based plot to destroy twelve commercial airliners flying routes between the United States, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. The 9/11 Commission Report says that "this marked the first time KSM took part in the actual planning of a terrorist operation."
"Using airline timetables, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Yousef devised a scheme whereby five men could, in a single day, board 12 flights — two each for three of the men, three each for the other two — assemble and deposit their bombs and exit the planes, leaving timers to ignite the bombs up to several days afterward. By the time the bombs exploded, the men would be far away and far from reasonable suspicion. The math was simple: 12 flights with at least 400 people per flight. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 deaths. It would be a day of glory for them, calamity for the Americans they supposed would fill the aircraft."
Bojinka plans also included renting or buying a Cessna, packing it with explosives and crash landing it into CIA headquarters, with a backup plan to hijack the twelfth airliner in the air and use that instead. This information was reported in detail to the U.S. at the time. This point was not mentioned in KSM's confession to involvement in thirty-one terrorist plots, including 9/11.
In December 1994, Yousef had engaged in a test of a bomb on Philippine Airlines Flight 434 using only about ten percent of the explosives that were to be used in each of the bombs to be planted on United States airliners. The test resulted in the death of a Japanese national on board a flight from the Philippines to Japan. Mohammed conspired with Yousef on the plot until it was uncovered on January 6, 1995. Yousef was captured February 7 of that same year.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was secretly indicted on terrorism charges in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in January 1996 for his alleged involvement in Operation Bojinka, and was subsequently placed on the October 10, 2001, initial list of the FBI's twenty-two Most Wanted Terrorists.
Redevelopment of the relationship with Osama bin Laden
“ If now we were living in the Revolutionary War and George Washington he being arrested through Britain. For sure he, they would consider him enemy combatant. But American they consider him as hero. ”
—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, speaking in 2007
By the time the Operation Bojinka plot was discovered, Mohammed was already safely in Qatar, back at his job as a project engineer at the country's Ministry of Electricity and Water. He traveled in 1995 to Sudan, Yemen, Malaysia, and Brazil to visit elements of the worldwide jihadist community, although no evidence connects him to specific terrorist actions in any of those locations. On his trip to Sudan he attempted to meet with Osama bin Laden, who was at the time living there with the aid of Sudanese political leader Hassan al Turabi. After a request to arrest Mohammed came to the Qatari government from the United States in January 1996, Mohammed fled to Afghanistan, where he renewed his relationship with Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and formed a working relationship with the newly migrated bin Laden later that year. "According to KSM, this was the first time he had seen bin Laden since 1989. Although they had fought together [in Afghanistan] in 1987, bin Laden and KSM did not yet enjoy an especially close working relationship."
Just as Mohammed was re-establishing himself in Afghanistan, bin Laden and his colleagues were also transplanting their operations to the same country. Abu Hafs al-Masri/Mohammed Atef, bin Laden's chief of operations, arranged a meeting between bin Laden and Mohammed in Tora Bora sometime in mid-1996, in which Mohammed outlined a plan that would eventually become the quadruple hijackings of 2001. Bin Laden urged Mohammed to become a full-fledged member of Al Qaeda, but he continued to refuse such a commitment until around early 1999, after the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam convinced him that bin Laden was truly committed to attacking the United States. Mohammed wished to retain some degree of autonomy as a mujahid. His continuing relationship with Sayyaf had to be kept hidden from Al Qaeda, as full disclosure would have been problematic.
The 9/11 Commission Report notes on page 149 that Mohammed moved his family from Iran to Karachi, Pakistan in 1997. That same year, he attempted without success to join mujahideen leader Ibn al Khattab in Chechnya, another area of special interest to Mohammed. He was apparently unable to travel to Chechnya, and so he instead returned to Afghanistan, where he gradually gained stature in Al Qaeda and ultimately accepted bin Laden's invitation to move to Kandahar and join the organization as a full-fledged member (although he claims that he still refused to swear a formal oath of loyalty to bin Laden). Eventually, he became leader of Al Qaeda's media committee. He also worked on various unfulfilled plans for attacks in Israel and Southeast Asia.He was close to former Jemaah Islamiyah leader Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has also been widely described as living a lavish lifestyle, even while he was on the run from the law. He traveled all over the world using false passports, and was very close to being captured by U.S. authorities on numerous occasions.
In June 2001, he phoned a cell phone held by Belgian Saber Mohammed three times — as it was believed he was acting as a messenger for Mosa Zi Zemmori and Driss Elatellah.
September 11, 2001 attacks
A photo of Mohammed from a FBI wanted poster in 1998, digitally-altered to remove his beard.
The first hijack plan that Mohammed presented to the leadership of al-Qaeda called for several airplanes on both east and west coasts to be hijacked and flown into targets. His plan evolved from an earlier foiled plot known as Operation Bojinka, which called for 10 or more airliners to be bombed in mid-air or hijacked for use as missiles. Bin Laden rejected some potential targets suggested by Mohammed, such as the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles.
In late 1998 or early 1999, bin Laden gave approval for Mohammed to go forward with organizing the plot. A series of meetings occurred in spring of 1999, involving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Osama bin Laden, and his military chief Mohammed Atef. Bin Laden provided leadership for the plot, along with financial support. Bin Laden was also involved in selecting people to participate in the plot, including choosing Mohamed Atta as the lead hijacker. Mohammed provided operational support, such as selecting targets and helping arrange travel for the hijackers.
After Atta was chosen as the leader of the mission, "he met with Bin Laden to discuss the targets: the World Trade Center, which represented the U.S. economy; the Pentagon, a symbol of the U.S. military; and the U.S. Capitol, the perceived source of U.S. policy in support of Israel. The White House was also on the list, as Bin Laden considered it a political symbol and wanted to attack it as well."
"Bin Laden had been pressuring KSM (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) for months to advance the attack date. According to KSM, bin Laden had even asked that the attacks occur as early as mid-2000, after Israeli opposition party leader Ariel Sharon caused an outcry in the Middle East by visiting a sensitive and contested holy site in Jerusalem that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Although bin Laden recognized that Atta and the other pilots had only just arrived in the United States to begin their flight training, the al-Qaida leader wanted to punish the United States for supporting Israel. He allegedly told KSM it would be sufficient simply to down the planes and not hit specific targets. KSM withstood this pressure, arguing that the operation would not be successful unless the pilots were fully trained and the hijacking teams were larger."
In a 2002 interview with Al Jazeera journalist Yosri Fouda, Mohammed admitted his involvement, along with Ramzi Binalshibh, in the "Holy Tuesday operation". KSM, however, disputes this claim via his Personal Representative: "I never stated to the Al Jazeera reporter that I was the head of the al Qaida military committee."
In March 2007, Reuters reported that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to playing a role in the 9/11 terror attacks during a secret hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z," Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement read Saturday during a Combatant Status Review Tribunal at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. His confession was read by a member of the U.S. military who is serving as his personal representative. He further described his actions and motivations in a composition publicly released in 2009 known as The Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations. As the title of this last piece suggests, he and his co-authors cite Islam as an influence in their actions.
Reid "shoe bombing"
According to al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, who was captured and interrogated in Oman in 2003, Mohammed had sent al-Qaeda operative Richard Reid on a mission to bomb an airline. Jabarah also indicated that both he and Reid reported to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Daniel Pearl murder
According to a CNN interview with intelligence expert Rohan Gunaratna, "Daniel Pearl was going in search of the al Qaeda network that was operational in Karachi, and it was at the instruction of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that Daniel Pearl was killed." On October 12, 2006, Time magazine reported that "KSM confessed under CIA interrogation that he personally committed the murder." On March 15, 2007, the Pentagon released a statement that Mohammed had confessed to the murder.The statement quoted Mohammed as saying, "I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head."
Bali nightclub bombings
Main article: Bali nightclub bombings
Mohammed was also indirectly implicated in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings. In 2006, the Associated Press reported Col. Petrus Reinhard Golose of Indonesia's counterterrorism task force, in which he asserted "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was personally involved in setting up the courier system . . . in which money [to fund suicide bombings] was carried from Thailand to Malaysia and finally to Indonesia's Sumatra island."
Capture and interrogation
Enhanced interrogation techniques and Black site
"The CIA transmitted this mugshot to news organizations around the world".
On September 11, 2002, members of Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) claimed to have killed or captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed during a raid in Karachi that resulted in Binalshibh's capture. Some people have reported that Mohammed escaped, but that his family was captured.
On March 1, 2003, the ISI reported that they had captured him in a raid in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in a joint raid with the CIA's Special Activities Division paramilitary operatives.
Following the report of the capture, some Pakistani officials say he was immediately transferred to U.S. custody without extradition proceedings, while others said he remained in Pakistani custody. The raid took place at the home of Ahmed Abdul Qudoos, who was also reportedly arrested as an al-Qaeda agent. Qudoos' family told media that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was not in the house, that Qudoos was disabled and had never been associated with al-Qaeda, and that the police conducting the raids did not ask for Mohammed. Other newspaper accounts said that former Taliban officials in Pakistan said that Mohammed was not captured and was still at large.
He told American interrogators he would not answer any questions until he was provided with a lawyer, which was refused to him. He claims to have been kept naked for more than a month during his isolation and interrogations, during which he was "questioned by an unusual number of female handlers"
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after capture.
According to the "unclassified summary of evidence" presented during the Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing in 2007 a computer hard drive seized during the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed contained the following:
information about the four airplanes hijacked on 11 September 2001 including code names, airline company, flight number, target, pilot name and background information, and names of the hijackers
photographs of 19 individuals identified as the 11 September 2001 hijackers
a document that listed the pilot license fees for Mohammad Atta and biographies for some of the 11 September 2001 hijackers.
images of passports and an image of Mohammad Atta.
transcripts of chat sessions belonging to at least one of the 11 September 2001 hijackers.
three letters from Osama bin Laden
spreadsheets that describe money assistance to families of known al Qaeda members
a letter to the United Arab Emirates threatening attack if their government continued to help the United States
a document that summarized operational procedures and training requirements of an al Qaeda cell
a list of killed and wounded al Qaeda militants.
However, at the hearing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed that the computer belonged not to him, but to Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, arrested together with him.
See also:Aafia Siddiqui
He reportedly revealed, among other names, that Aafia Siddiqui was a key al-Qaeda operative in Boston. She disappeared shortly thereafter, but was captured in 2009 and in February 2010, she was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and attempting to kill U.S. soldiers and FBI agents who were seeking to interrogate her while she was in custody.
A CIA document reveals that Jane Harman [D-CA] and Porter Goss [R-FL] of the House Intelligence Committee were briefed on July 13, 2004 by the CIA Deputy Director for Operations James Pavitt, General Council Scott Muller, and CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson on the status of the interrogation process. By this date, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been subjected to 183 applications of waterboarding. The document states
"(...) the CIA was seeking renewed policy approval from the NSC Principals to continue using the enhanced interrogation techniques."
On October 12, 2004, Human Rights Watch reported that 11 suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, had "disappeared" to a semi-secret prison in Jordan, and might have been tortured there under the direction of the CIA.
Jordanian and American officials denied those allegations.
CIA Director Michael Hayden told a Senate committee on February 5, 2008, that the agency had used waterboarding on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. A 2005 U.S. Justice Department memo released in April 2009 stated that Mohammed had undergone waterboarding 183 times in March 2003.
In October 2006 Mohammed described his mistreatment and torture in detention, including the waterboarding, to a representative of International Committee of the Red Cross. Mohammed said that he had provided a lot of false information that he had supposed the interrogators wanted to hear in order to stop the mistreatment. In the 2006 interview with the Red Cross, Mohammed claimed to have been waterboarded in 5 different sessions during the first month of interrogation in his third place of detention. While the Justice Department memos were confusing in that they did not explain exactly what the numbers represented, a U.S. official with knowledge of the interrogation programs explained the 183 figure represented the number of times water was applied to the detainees face during the waterboarding sessions.
In June 2008, a New York Times article citing unnamed CIA officers claimed that Mohammed was held in a secret facility in Poland near Szymany Airport, about 100 miles north of Warsaw, where he was interrogated under waterboarding before he began to cooperate.
Report that interrogators abused his children
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Letter from Ali Khan, Majid Khan's father
Ali Khan, the father of Majid Khan, another one of the 14 "high-value detainees," released an affidavit on Monday April 16, 2006, that reported that interrogators subjected Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's children, aged six and eight years old, to abusive interrogation.
Khan's affidavit quoted another of his sons, Mohammed Khan:
"The Pakistani guards told my son that the boys were kept in a separate area upstairs, and were denied food and water by other guards. They were also mentally tortured by having ants or other creatures put on their legs to scare them and get them to say where their father was hiding."
Transfer to Guantánamo and hearing before his Combatant Status Review Tribunal
On September 6, 2006, then-American President George W. Bush confirmed, for the first time, that the CIA had held "high-value detainees" for interrogation in secret prisons around the world. He also announced that fourteen senior captives, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were being transferred from CIA custody, to military custody, at Guantanamo Bay detention camp and that these fourteen captives could now expect to face charges before Guantanamo military commissions.
In a September 29, 2006, speech, Bush stated "Once captured, Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were taken into custody of the Central Intelligence Agency. The questioning of these and other suspected terrorists provided information that helped us protect the American people. They helped us break up a cell of Southeast Asian terrorist operatives that had been groomed for attacks inside the United States. They helped us disrupt an al Qaeda operation to develop anthrax for terrorist attacks. They helped us stop a planned strike on a U.S. Marine camp in Djibouti, and to prevent a planned attack on the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, and to foil a plot to hijack passenger planes and to fly them into Heathrow Airport and London's Canary Wharf."
In March 2007, Mohammed testified before a closed-door hearing in Guantánamo Bay. According to transcripts of the hearing released by the Pentagon, he said, "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z." The transcripts also show him confessing to:
Organizing the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,
The Bali nightclub bombings,
Richard Reid's attempted shoe bombing,
Planning the attacks on Heathrow Airport and Big Ben clock tower in London,
Daniel Pearl's murder in 2002,
Planned assassination attempts on Pope John Paul II, Pervez Musharraf and Bill Clinton.
"Because war, for sure, there will be victims. When I said I'm not happy that three thousand been killed in America. I feel sorry even...Killing is prohibited in all what you call the People of the Book, Jews, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. You know the Ten Commandments very well. The Ten Commandments are shared between all of us. We all are serving one God."
—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, before his tribunal
On March 15, 2007, BBC News reported that "Transcripts of his testimony were translated from Arabic and edited by the U.S. Department of Defense to remove sensitive intelligence material before release. It appeared, from a judge's question, that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had made allegations of torture in US custody". In the Defense Department transcript, Mohammed said his statement was not made under duress but Mohammed and human rights advocates have alleged that he was tortured. CIA officials have previously told ABC News that "Mohammed lasted the longest under waterboarding, two and a half minutes, before beginning to talk." Legal experts say this could taint all his statements. Forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner, M.D., an expert in false confessions, observed from the testimony transcript that his concerns about his family may have been far more influential in soliciting Mohammed’s cooperation than any earlier reported mistreatment.
One CIA official cautioned that "many of Mohammed's claims during interrogation were 'white noise' designed to send the U.S. on wild goose chases or to get him through the day's interrogation session". For example according to Mike Rogers, a former FBI agent and the top Republican on the terrorism panel of the House Intelligence Committee, he has admitted responsibility for the Bali nightclub bombing, but his involvement "could have been as small as arranging a safe house for travel. It could have been arranging finance." Mohammed also made the admission that he was "responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center Operation," which killed six and injured more than 1,000 when a bomb was detonated in an underground garage, Mohammed did not plan the attack, but he may have supported it. Michael Welner noted that by offering legitimate information to interrogators, Mohammed had secured the leverage to provide disinformation as well.
List of confessions
All of these plots can also be referred to as 'Second Oplan Bojinka'.
The February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City
A failed "shoe bomber" operation
The October 2002 attack in Kuwait
The nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia
A plan for a "second wave" of attacks on major U.S. landmarks after the 9/11 attacks, including the Library Tower in Los Angeles, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Plaza Bank Building in Seattle and the Empire State Building in New York
Plots to attack oil tankers and U.S. naval ships in the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Gibraltar and in Singapore
A plan to blow up the Panama Canal
Plans to assassinate Jimmy Carter
A plot to blow up suspension bridges in New York City
A plan to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago with burning fuel trucks
Plans to "destroy" Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf and Big Ben in London
A planned attack on "many" nightclubs in Thailand
A plot targeting the New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial targets
A plan to destroy buildings in Eilat, Israel
Plans to destroy U.S. embassies in Indonesia, Australia and Japan in 2002.
Plots to destroy Israeli embassies in India, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Australia
Surveying and financing an attack on an Israeli El-Al flight from Bangkok
Sending several "mujahideen" into Israel to survey "strategic targets" with the intention of attacking them
The November 2002 suicide bombing of a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya
The failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet leaving Mombasa airport in Kenya
Plans to attack U.S. targets in South Korea
Providing financial support for a plan to attack U.S., British and Jewish targets in Turkey
Surveillance of U.S. nuclear power plants in order to attack them
A plot to attack NATO's headquarters in Europe
Planning and surveillance in a 1995 plan (the "Bojinka Operation") to bomb 12 American passenger jets
The planned assassination attempt against then-U.S. President Bill Clinton during a mid-1990s trip to the Philippines.
"Shared responsibility" for a plot to kill Pope John Paul II
Plans to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
An attempt to attack a U.S. oil company in Sumatra, Indonesia, "owned by the Jewish former [U.S.] Secretary of State Henry Kissinger"
The beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl
Documents associated with KSM used to implicate other suspects
A number of Guantanamo captives faced allegations that their names were found on suspicious lists and other documents associated with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Confession used in Sheikh Omar's defense
On March 19, 2007, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh's lawyers cited Mohammed's confession in defense of their client.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, also known as Sheikh Omar, was sentenced to death in a Pakistani court for the murder of Daniel Pearl. Omar's lawyers recently announced that they planned to use Mohammed's confession in an appeal. They had always acknowledged that Omar played a role in Pearl's murder, but argue that Mohammed was the actual murderer.
The Department of Defense announced on August 9, 2007 that all fourteen of the "high-value detainees" who had been transferred to Guantanamo from the CIA's black sites, had been officially classified as "enemy combatants". Although judges Peter Brownback and Keith J. Allred had ruled two months earlier that only "illegal enemy combatants" could face military commissions, the Department of Defense waived the qualifier and said that all fourteen men could now face charges before Guantanamo military commissions.
Trial for 9/11
See also: United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, et al.
This section requires expansion.
On February 11, 2008, the United States Department of Defense charged Mohammed as well as Ramzi Binalshibh, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Walid Bin Attash for the September 11, 2001 attacks under the military commission system, as established under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. They have reportedly been charged with the murder of almost 3000 people, terrorism and providing material support for terrorism and plane hijacking; as well as attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury and destruction of property in violation of the law of war. The charges against them list 169 overt acts allegedly committed by the defendants in furtherance of the September 11 events."
The charges include 2,973 individual counts of murder — one for each person killed in the 9/11 attacks.
The U.S. government is seeking the death penalty, which would require the unanimous agreement of the commission judges.
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Center for Constitutional Rights, and U.S. military defense lawyers have criticised the military commissions for lacking necessary rights for a fair trial. Critics generally argue for a trial either in a federal district court as a common criminal suspect, or by court-martial as a prisoner under the Geneva Conventions which prohibit civilian trials for prisoners of war. Mohammed could face the death penalty under any of these systems.
The Pentagon insisted that Mohammed and the other defendant would receive a fair trial, with rights "virtually identical" to U.S. military service personnel. However, there are some differences between U.S. courts-martial and military commissions.
The U.S. Department of Defense has built a $12 million "Expeditionary Legal Complex" in Guantánamo with a snoop-proof courtroom capable of trying six alleged co-conspirators before one judge and jury. Media and other observers are sequestered in a soundproofed room behind thick glass, at the rear. The judge at the front and a court security officer have mute buttons to silence the feed to the observers' booth—if they suspect someone in court could spill classified information.
The trial, presided over by judge Ralph Kohlmann, began on June 5, 2008, with the arraignment. About thirty-five journalists watched on closed-circuit TV in a press room inside a converted hangar, while two dozen others watched through a window from a room adjacent to the courtroom.
Mohammed insisted he would not be represented by any attorneys. The other detainees quickly followed suit and said they too wanted to represent themselves. One of the civilian attorneys Mohammed spurned, David Nevin, later told the Associated Press that he would attempt to meet with Mohammed to "hear him out and see if we can give him information that is helpful."
Mohammed was careful not to interrupt Kohlmann. He lost his composure only after the Marine colonel ordered several defense attorneys to keep quiet "It's an inquisition. It's not a trial," Mohammed said in broken English, his voice rising. "After torturing they transfer us to inquisition-land in Guantanamo."
He explained he believes only in religious Sharia law and railed against U.S. President George W. Bush for waging a "crusade war." When judge warned Mohammed that he faces execution if convicted of organizing the attacks on America, Mohammed said he welcomes the death penalty. "Yes, this is what I wish, to be a martyr for a long time," Mohammed declared. "I will, God willing, have this, by you."
A sound feed to journalists from the courtroom was turned off twice.
The sound was also turned off when another defendant discussed early days of his imprisonment. Judge Ralph Kohlmann said that in both cases sound was turned off because classified information was discussed.
On September 23, 2008, in the voir dire process, Mohammed questioned the judge on his potential bias at trial. "Glaring and poking an occasional finger in the air," Mohammed told Kohlmann, "The government considers all of us fanatical extremists," and asked, "How can you, as an officer of the U.S. Marine Corps, stand over me in judgment?" Insisting that he was attempting to work out if Kohlmann was a religious extremist, he continued: "[President] Bush said this is a crusader war and Osama bin Laden said this is a holy war against the crusades. If you were part of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson’s group, then you would not be impartial."
For his part, Kohlmann attempted to maintain his dignity, explaining that he was currently unaffiliated with a church "because I’ve moved so often." He added that he had previously worshipped at "various Lutheran churches and Episcopal churches."
Mohammed then proceeded to ask Kohlmann about his views on torture. As part of the background materials supplied to him — or made available to the civilian lawyers who are voluntarily assisting him in his defense — he referred to an ethics seminar that Kohlmann had conducted at his daughter’s high school in 2005, in which the students had been asked to consider their responses to a “Ticking Time Bomb” scenario. Based on a fictional proposition that a bomb is about to go off, and an unwilling captive knows its location but is unwilling to disclose the information, the scenario is widely used by proponents of “enhanced interrogation techniques” to justify the use of torture.
Kohlmann explained that he encouraged the debate as part of "a complex question that might be dealt with differently if someone were specifically trying to save the nation or just looking at it from an ethical sense or just looking at it from a legal sense," and dismissed a combative question from Mohammed — "It seems that you are supportive of the use of torture for national security?" — by stating, "I have no idea where that would come from."
On October 12, 2008, Kohlmann ruled that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and his four co-charged, should be provided with laptops, so they can work on their defenses.
In November 2009, according to an Administration official, Mohammed was being transferred from Guantanamo Bay to New York to face a Federal Trial. Four other detainees will be facing trial in front of civilian federal court, as well.
On January 22, 2010, The Pentagon officially dropped military charges against Mohammed and the four other alleged conspirators, clearing the path for likely transfer from Guantanamo to the United States to face charges in a civilian federal court.
Kohlmann unexpectedly replaced
Kohlmann was scheduled to retire in 2009. In November 2008, he was unexpectedly replaced by Stephen Henley.
Possible guilty plea
On December 8, 2008, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants told the judge that they wished to confess and plead guilty to all charges. The plea will be delayed until mental competency hearings for Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi and Ramzi Binalshibh can be held; Mohammed said, "We want everyone to plead together." Spencer Ackerman, writing in the Washington Independent, reported that Presiding Officer Stephen Henley had to consider whether he was authorized to accept guilty pleas.
Transfer of the case to a civilian court
On 13 November 2009 US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi will all be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for trial. He also expressed confidence that an impartial jury would be found "to ensure a fair trial in New York."
On 21 January 2010 all charges have been withdrawn in the military commissions against the five suspects in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks being held at Guantanamo Bay. The charges were dropped "without prejudice" - a procedural move that allows federal officials to transfer the men to trial in a civilian court and also leaves the door open, if necessary, to bring charges again in military commissions.
In February 2010 Fox News reported that the legal counsel of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the legal counsel of several other captives, was halted without warning. The attorneys had made the trip to Guantanamo in the usual manner—a trip that requires advising authorities of the purpose of their trip. However, upon their arrival in Guantanamo, they were informed they were no longer allowed to see their clients. They were told that letters to their clients, telling them that they had travelled to Cuba, to see them, could not be delivered, as they were no longer authorized to write to their clients. Camp authorities told them that since the charges against their clients had been dropped, while the Department of Justice figured out where to charge them, they no longer needed legal counsel. Camp authorities told them that, henceforward, all access to the captives had to be approved by Jay Johnson, the Department of Defense's General Counsel. Fox reported that during earlier periods when the charges had been dropped the captives had still been allowed to see their attorneys. Fox claimed that questions they asked camp authorities lead to the captives' access to their attorneys being restored.
On 1 February 2010 White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told CNN that "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he's going to meet his maker. He will be brought to justice and he's likely to be executed for the heinous crimes he committed". The White House spokesperson's statement has been criticized as violating the principle of the presumption of innocence and has been characterized as egregious by an attorney of Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Release of new images
On September 9, 2009, images of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ammar al Baluchi were widely republished Camp authorities have strict controls over the capture and release of images of the Guantanamo captives. Journalists and VIPs visiting Guantanamo are not allowed to take any pictures that show the captives' faces. "High value" captives, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are only seen by journalists when they are in the court room, where cameras are not allowed. However, on September 9, 2009 independent counter-terrorism researchers found new images of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his nephew Ammar al Baluchi on "jihadist websites". According to Carol Rosenberg, writing in the Miami Herald: "The pictures were taken in July, said International Committee of the Red Cross spokesman Bernard Barrett, under an agreement with prison camp staff that lets Red Cross delegates photograph detainees and send photos to family members."