- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2007

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, long suspected as the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, confessed to that attack and a string of others during a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a transcript released yesterday by the Pentagon.

“I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z,” Mohammed said in a statement read during the session, which was held last Saturday. “I was the operational director for Sheikh Usama (Osama) Bin Laden for the organizing, planning, follow-up, and execution of the 9/11 operation.”

The Pakistani national said he was involved in planning 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 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, that killed 202 persons.

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, the Panama Canal and Big Ben and Heathrow Airport in London — none of which occurred.

Mohammed also admitted “managing and following up on the Cell for the Production of Biological Weapons, such as anthrax and others, and following up on Dirty Bomb Operations on American soil.”

In a section of the statement that was blacked out, he confessed to the on-tape beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the Associated Press has learned. Mr. Pearl was abducted in January 2002 in Pakistan while researching a story on Islamic militancy. Mohammed has long been a suspect in the killing.

His words draw al Qaeda closer to plots of the early 1990s than the group has previously been connected to, including the 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing. Six people with links to global terror networks were convicted in federal court and sentenced to life in prison.

It also makes clear that al Qaeda wanted to down a second trans-Atlantic aircraft during would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid’s operation.

Mohammed’s confession was read by a member of the U.S. military who is serving as his personal representative. It also claimed he shared responsibility for three other attacks, including assassination attempts against Pope John Paul II and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

In all, Mohammed said he was responsible for planning 28 attacks. The comments were included in a 26-page transcript released by the Pentagon, which blacked out some of his remarks.

After his confession was read, Mohammed personally made a long statement in broken English, in which he compared Osama bin Laden to George Washington.

“He is doing [the] same thing,” he said. “He is just fighting. He needs his independence.”

He appeared to express some regret at the deaths caused by the September 11 attacks but suggested they were justified as part of a war against the U.S.

“I’m not happy that three thousand been killed in America. I feel sorry even,” he said. “The language of any war in the world is killing. I mean the language of the war is victims.”

Mohammed also claimed he was tortured by the CIA after his capture in 2003, according to an exchange he had with the military colonel who heads the three-member panel that heard his case.

“Is any statement that you made, was it because of this treatment, to use your word, you claim torture,” the colonel asked. “Do you make any statements because of that?”

Portions of Mohammed’s response were deleted from the transcript, and his immediate answer was not clear. He later said his confession, read at the hearing, to the long list of attacks was given without any pressure, threats or duress.

The Pentagon also released transcripts of the hearings of Abu Faraj al-Libi and Ramzi Binalshibh. Both refused to attend the hearings, though al-Libi submitted a statement.

Binalshibh, a Yemeni, is suspected of helping Mohammed with the September 11 attack plan and is also linked to a foiled plot to crash aircraft into London’s Heathrow Airport. Al-Libi is a Libyan who reportedly masterminded two bombings 11 days apart in Pakistan in December 2003 that targeted Gen. Musharraf for his support of the U.S.-led war on terror.

The hearings, which began on Friday, are being conducted in secret by the military as it tries to determine whether 14 top terrorism suspects, including Mohammed, should be declared “enemy combatants” who can be held indefinitely and prosecuted by military tribunals.

The transcripts also lay out evidence against Mohammed, saying that a computer seized during his capture included detailed information about the September 11 plot — ranging from names and photos of the hijackers to photos of hijacker Mohammad Atta’s pilot’s license and even letters from bin Laden.

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