Khalid Mohammed And His Confession – Gruesome Details, Legal Issues

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, believed to be the highest-ranking al Qaeda operative in US custody, confessed to a total of 31 charges on Saturday, in a one-hour closed-door military tribunal hearing at Guantanamo Bay. However, legal experts in the US have warned that the circumstances under which the confessions were extracted may serve to weaken them.

Mr Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in March 2003 and held in secret detention facilities by the CIA for more than three years. He was transferred into military custody at Guantanamo Bay in September following the US Supreme Court decision that all al Qaeda detainees are covered by the Geneva Conventions.

Presenting himself as a soldier fighting for independence, Mr Mohammed boasted that he had masterminded the 9/11 attacks “from A to Z”, the December 2001 (failed) shoe-bomber plot to down US airliners over the Atlantic, the October 2002 bombings of nightclubs in Bali (Indonesia) and the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. He also claimed to have helped orchestrate a series of assassinations which were never carried out on former US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, as well as the late Pope John Paul II. He further claimed that he was involved in plans to bomb American and Israeli embassies in Asia and Australia, and attack American naval vessels and oil tankers around the world.

According to a transcript of the hearing released by the Pentagon on Thursday, Mr Mohammed, a Kuwaiti national, mostly spoke for himself in broken English and occasionally asked for Arabic phrases to be translated into English by a personal representative, who also read out his detailed written confession.

During the hearing, Mr Mohammed argued that Osama bin Laden and George Washington shared similar roles historically, and that the attacks against the US were comparable to the invasion of Iraq.

He said George Washington would have been considered an enemy combatant by England during the American Revolutionary War. “As consider George Washington as hero. Muslims many of them are considering Osama bin Laden. He is doing same thing. He is just fighting. He needs his independence,” said Mr Mohammed, who added that he wants to make a “great awakening” to force the United States to stop foreign policy “in our land”.

He said he was “sorry” that children had died in the 9/11 attacks. “I’m not happy that 3,000 been killed in America. I feel sorry, even. I don’t like to kill children and the kids. Never Islam are give me green light to kill people. Killing, as in the Christianity, Jews and Islam, are prohibited.”

However, Mr Mohammed said the US had made an exception for itself in this respect because it had not hesitated to kill innocent people, including children, in order to invade Iraq. “There are exception of rule when you are killing people in Iraq. You said we have to do it. We don’t like Saddam. But this is the way to deal with Saddam. Same thing you are saying. Same language you use, I use. You know very well there are language for any war. So … when I admitting these things I’m not saying I’m not did it. I did it by this the language of any war. If America they want to invade Iraq, they will not send for Saddam roses or kisses, they send for a bombardment.”

In the most grisly and graphic confession at the hearing, Mr Mohammed boasted in a statement read out by his personal representative that he had personally beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002, a crime for which he seemed particularly proud because of Mr Pearl’s Jewish heritage. “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan,” said Mr Mohammed in the statement. “For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.” He later argued that Mr Pearl was a spy for both the CIA and the Mossad (the Israeli intelligence agency), and said his beheading had not been part of an al Qaeda operation, but had been carried out in cooperation with the mujahadeen in Pakistan.

The US case against Mr Mohammed, especially in relation to his involvement in the 9/11 attacks, is partially based on a computer hard drive found in his possession when he was captured. It is alleged to have contained code names, flight numbers and photographs of the 9/11 hijackers. Mr Mohammed repeatedly argued that the hard drive actually belonged to another detainee, Mustafa Hawsawi. However, the tribunal president ruled that ownership of the hard drive is irrelevant to Mr Mohammed’s status as a combatant, and his very possession of the hard drive is itself an offence.

Mr Mohammed challenged the fairness of this ruling as well as that of the military tribunal framework, in which he apparently has no legal representation. “I have been held by the United States for over two years without any indication of how the judicial system is going to deal with my situation. This is a very long period of time without being subject to a court of justice … It is in my opinion that the detainee is in a lose-lose situation … the United States is fully represented while I have not been given the same opportunities.”

There is some confusion regarding a few of Mr Mohammed’s confessions that do not seem to add up. For example, US authorities doubt that he had a role in the 1993 World Trade Center attack. Terrorist mastermind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and accomplice coordinator Ramzi Ahmed Yousef have already been convicted for the attack. Similarly, US and Indonesian officials know the identities of the terrorists behind the Bali bombings in 2002. Meanwhile, US and Turkish intelligence officials doubt that Mr Mohammed provided financial support to “hit American, Jewish and British targets in Turkey”.

The Associated Press has reported that experts are warning that Mr Mohammed seems to have exaggerated his role in some of the plots, in an effort to bolster his own image and that of al Qaeda. “I have never known a criminal – either terrorist or otherwise – that didn’t exaggerate,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a former FBI agent and the top Republican on the terrorism panel of the House Intelligence Committee.

Mr Mohammed has also claimed that he was tortured by the CIA during the first years of his detention, and that several of his confessions were made as a result of the torture. Legal experts have further warned that this may weaken his confessions.

The CIA has repeatedly denied that it uses torture in the interrogation of detainees.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laluttefinale
    Apr 16, 2007 @ 18:44:30

    Nice blog!


  2. Desktopjunk
    Apr 22, 2007 @ 14:27:34

    Thanks, always good posts on your blog!


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