- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

KUWAIT CITY Two young sons of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks, are being held by the CIA to force their father to talk, interrogators said yesterday.
Yousef al-Khalid, 9, and his brother, Abed al-Khalid, 7, were taken into custody in Pakistan in September when intelligence officers raided an apartment in Karachi where their father had been hiding.
He fled just hours before the raid, but his two young sons, along with another senior al Qaeda member, were found cowering behind a clothes closet in the apartment.
The boys have been held by the Pakistani authorities, but this weekend they were flown to America, where they will be questioned about their father.
CIA interrogators confirmed last night that the boys were staying at a secret address where they were being encouraged to talk about their father's activities.
"We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little children," said one official, "but we need to know as much about their father's recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times, and they are given the best of care."
Their father, Mohammed, 37, is being interrogated at the Bagram U.S. military base in Afghanistan. He is being held in solitary confinement and subjected to "stress and duress" interrogations.
He has been told that his sons are being held and is being encouraged to divulge future attacks against the West and talk about the location of Osama bin Laden, officials said.
"He has said very little so far," one CIA official said yesterday. "He sits in a trancelike state and recites verses from the Koran. But while he may claim to be a devout Muslim, we know he is fond of the Western-style fast life.
"His sons are important to him. The promise of their release and their return to Pakistan may be the psychological lever we need to break him."
The Kuwaiti-born Mohammed named his older son after Ramzi Yousef, his nephew, who was convicted of masterminding the 1993 attack on New York's World Trade Center. After the attack, Yousef fled to the Philippines with his uncle.
When bomb-making chemicals set fire to their Manila apartment, Yousef fled to Pakistan, where he was captured in an Islamabad hotel room in 1995.
Mohammed was in the next room and, audaciously, gave an eyewitness account of the arrest to a reporter. By the time the Pakistani authorities found out his true identity, he had fled the country.
He was eventually arrested March 1 in a house in Rawalpindi, two miles from the home of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Among the items found in the house was a photograph of a smiling Mohammed with his arms around his two sons.
Known as "the Engineer," he is suspected of being the mastermind of the Oct. 12, 2002, Bali bombings in Indonesia that killed more than 180 people, and the man who slashed the throat of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in January 2002.
Little is known of his sons' mother, who is thought to be Pakistani. "We have no evidence that suggests she has anything to do with al Qaeda," a Pakistani intelligence source said yesterday.
"All we know is that she is the sister of an al Qaeda member that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed met at a Pakistan college, the University of Dawa al Jihad, in the late 1980s."
The college, considered a premier Islamic military academy, is said to have been a breeding ground for terrorists where bomb making was among the subjects on its unofficial curriculum.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide