9/11 mastermind dyes beard with berries

2012-10-25 14:03
A courtroom sketch of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as he holds up a piece of paper during a court recess at his Military Commissions hearing. (File/ AFP)

A courtroom sketch of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as he holds up a piece of paper during a court recess at his Military Commissions hearing. (File/ AFP)

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Washington - The mastermind of the 9/11 attacks dyes his long, bushy beard with the juice of freshly crushed berries to give it its distinctive rusty hue, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or KSM, regarded as one of late al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's most trusted and intelligent lieutenants, probably used henna in the past to obtain his beard's reddish colour, longtime observers surmise.

But he would have had no access to that plant-based dye while in US detention, which created something of a mystery about how he has managed during years of detention to touch up his beard's greying roots.

A Pentagon spokesperson said the secret is in the fruits and juices served up from time to time at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba where he is detained.

"He does use various berries and juices available on occasion at meals, available to the detainees," said Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesperson, in confirming news reports earlier this week.

"I do not know which berries or juices he prefers, nor the exact manner in which he concocts this harmless, non-toxic means to colour his facial hair."

No rules broken


Breasseale said the information about the accused terrorist's regimen was provided by military authorities within the Joint Task Force charged with maintaining the military facility at Guantanamo.

"He has been doing this for the last few months," the spokesperson said.

Breasseale said Mohammed's creative use of the food items did not break any known rules at the detention facility.

"We view this allowance as a reasonable consideration that comports with both health and cultural norms," he said.

Mohammed, who appeared last week for a pre-trial hearing at Guantanamo, is accused of orchestrating the 11 September 2001 hijacked airliner plot that left nearly 3 000 people dead.

Four alleged al-Qaeda accomplices are charged with providing funding and other support for those who crashed the planes. All five face the death penalty if convicted.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  khalid sheikh mohammed  |  us  |  9/11 attacks
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