9/11 mastermind in court

2012-05-06 14:40

Guantanamo Bay - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who says he masterminded the worst attacks on US soil "from A to Z," has dedicated his life to plotting against the West.

Mohammed and four co-accused were formally charged in a military tribunal on Saturday, clearing the way for the long-delayed, high-profile trial of those who allegedly plotted the 11 September 2001 attacks.

All five defendants deferred entering their pleas at the hearing on a US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Mohammed was regarded as one of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's most trusted and intelligent lieutenants before his March 2003 capture in Pakistan. He then spent three years in secret CIA prisons before arriving in Guantanamo in 2006.

He was known as "mukhtar" (the chosen one) or "the brain" in extremist circles, but mocked as "KFC" for his love of fried chicken, biographers say. An "arrogant," "very proud" man of small stature, Mohammed also had a reputation for being short-tempered.

Attended university

The 47-year-old trained engineer was involved in a string of major plots against the United States, where he attended university.

In addition to planning the operation to bring down the Twin Towers, Mohammed claims to have personally beheaded US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 with his "blessed right hand" and to have helped in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing that killed six people.

Among several failed plots he admitted to interrogators were planned assassinations of the late pope John Paul II and former US presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Mohammed was born on 24 April 24 1965 to a Pakistani family living in Kuwait but his roots lie in Baluchistan, a restive Pakistani region bordering Afghanistan.

He says he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, an anti-Zionist activist group, when he was 16, beginning a life-long infatuation with violent jihad.

In 1983, Mohammed moved to the United States for his studies and graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a degree in mechanical engineering three years later.

Jailed in the US

During his stay in the United States, he stayed with a "small group" of Arabs from Kuwait, biographer Richard Miniter told AFP.

"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," a US intelligence summary said.

"He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country."

In 1987, he travelled to Afghanistan and fought alongside mujahedeen rebels against the Soviet invasion. He stayed in Afghanistan until 1992, and then headed to Bosnia and Herzegovina to fight with Muslim fighters against the Serbs, according to the 9/11 Commission report.

It was not until a botched 1995 plot to blow up US airliners over the Pacific, known as Operation Bojinka, that he achieved notoriety.

Mohammed was safely out of reach in Qatar by the time the Philippine authorities unravelled the plot, believed to have marked the first time he helped plan an attack.

He had earlier helped finance the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing hatched by his nephew Ramzi Youssef that killed six people and wounded more than 1 000 others.

Not a genius

Mohammed fought with bin Laden in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, but they only forged a close relationship 10 years later and Mohammed then allegedly began plotting what would later become the 11 September 2001 attacks.

"Bin Laden realised that this difficult little man was absolutely essential for turning AQ into the kind of organisation he wanted," Miniter said.

Mohammed then had a hand in nearly every single al-Qaeda plot until his arrest. But experts say it is not possible that one man alone was at the centre of all these terror plans.

"He's obviously a smart guy, but he's not a genius... He didn't do the impossible," said Terry McDermott, who authored The Hunt for KSM with Josh Meyer.

Most of what is known about Mohammed comes from interrogation transcripts released by the Pentagon and there are bound to be questions at trial over the harsh procedures used to obtain that information.

He is known to have been waterboarded 183 times during his years in US custody. Rights groups denounce the simulated drowning technique as torture.

Martyr

In reported confessions, Mohammed claimed to be the "military operational commander" for all al-Qaeda foreign operations, saying, "I'm not making myself a hero."

"I'm looking to be a martyr for a long time," he told a hearing at Guantanamo in June 2008, the first time he had appeared in public since his arrest.

Photos released by the US military at the time showed a wild-eyed, dishevelled man in a white T-shirt, but he appeared in court on Saturday sporting a long, flowing beard. It marked his first public appearance in three years.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  khalid sheikh mohammed  |  security  |  9/11 attacks
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Hottie of the day: Nicole Meyer!

Nicole is the cover girl for the 2014 edition of SA Swimsuit! Check out some smoking hot pics of here here.

 
 

Men24.com

11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The Moon has moved into your sign, emphasizing the need to connect things to work together. There is a tendency to focus too far...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.