Our blood is not water: 9/11 mastermind

2012-10-18 10:57

Guantanamo Bay - Wearing a military-style vest, self-declared 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed delivered scathing anti-American criticism at a military tribunal on Wednesday in what the judge called a "one-time occurrence".

The US president "can legislate assassinations under the name of national security for American citizens", the Kuwaiti-born Pakistani said during the third day of a pre-trial hearing at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Often considered an agitator, Mohammed - known by his initials KSM - was allowed to speak with a 40-second time delay that would have enabled his comments to be censored had he touched on sensitive issues.

Mohammed was detained in a secret CIA prison from 2002 to 2006, and the government has acknowledged that he was subjected to waterboarding 183 times.

"Every dictator can choose" his definition of national security, he said.

"Many can kill people under the name of national security, many can torture people under the name of national security and detain children under the name of national security, under-aged children."

Reference to bin Laden

Mohammed spoke calmly in Arabic and waited until each of his sentences had been translated into English. Having studied in the United States, he sometimes paused to correct the interpreter.

"In the name of God... When the government feels sad for 3 000 people who were killed on 9/11, we should feel sorry that the federal government ... has killed millions of people under the name of national security," he said.

He also made an apparent reference to al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, killed by the United States in Pakistan last year: "The president can take someone and throw him under the sea under the name of national security."

Donning a thick beard dyed with henna and a white turban, Mohammed, who was regarded as one of bin Laden's most trusted and intelligent lieutenants, concluded by saying "our blood is not made of water".

Following his speech, Judge James Pohl alerted him that he would not be allowed to speak again.

"I didn't interrupt you ... this is a one-time occurrence," Pohl said.

Facing death penalty

The hearings are in preparation for a 9/11 trial to be held at some point next year.

Mohammed is accused of orchestrating the hijacked airliner plot that left 2 976 people dead, while his 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.

In addition to felling the Twin Towers, the trained engineer claims to have 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.

Mohammed, who considers himself a prisoner of war, appeared on Wednesday wearing a military-style camouflage vest over a white tunic.

The prosecution has dubbed the defendants "unlawful combatants", and sought to deny them the right to military-style clothing on security grounds, but Pohl dismissed this concern.

Mohammed and the other defendants also have the right to stay in their cells and not attend the five-day pre-trial hearing, which runs until Friday.

'Hypothetical interrogation technique'

KSM had planned to attend on Wednesday, then asked to be taken back to his cell, only to change his mind again and appear at the hearing, the judge said.

In the end, Mohammed showed up during a break in the proceedings.

The defence is seeking to prevent President Barack Obama's administration from arguing that the treatment and alleged torture of the defendants during interrogations in secret CIA prisons before being sent to Guantanamo in 2006 is classified for national security.

A portion of Wednesday's exchanges were blurred when a lawyer made a "specific reference to a classified hypothetical interrogation technique", the judge explained when the transmission resumed.

"If I beat you, I'm not providing you information. If I chain you to the ceiling, I'm not providing you information," said lawyer Kevin Bogucki, saying that only information could be classified, not memories of experiences.

During the exchange, Mohammed leaned toward co-defendant Ammar al-Baluchi, and, after addressing him from a distance, raised his hand to indicate he wanted to speak.

  • hamish.drake1 - 2012-10-18 11:39

    Maybe someone can tell me this? If he is considered a civilian, why is he facinf a military tribunal? My understanding is that you would have to be considered an "enemy combatant" to face a tribunal. If he is considered an a combatant, then the term terrorist would have to be changed to something alonf the lines of "murder of civilians". If he is a civilian, he should be tried in a criminal court for terrorism and murder.

      Jeremy - 2012-10-18 11:52

      Hamish, I think you make a very good point. What concerns me though is the bigger picture, the rapidly growing numbers of Islamic extremists who believe the "great satan" must be defeated - and are willing to give their lives to achieve that goal. If we are to have such a thing as "world peace," the US and western powers urgently need to find some sort of rapprochement with mainstream Islam to isolate and subdue the extreme jihadists. If they have their way, they'll take us all back to the 17th century!

      merven.halo - 2012-10-18 11:52

      A terrorist is a terrorist, no matter if in civilian of military terms.

  • evidence.dumba - 2012-10-18 11:39

    Three sides to the story. USA side, Khalid's side and then the teuth.

      customdesign - 2012-10-18 11:45

      I think you mean "tooth"

      Jeremy - 2012-10-18 12:20

      I think he means "truth" actually!

  • ihsaan.abrahams - 2012-10-18 11:50

    And what about the mastermind behind the Afghan and Iraq wars what happens to them?

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-18 12:14

      The Afghan war initially started by the Soviets, then the USA joined.

      richard.bosmano - 2012-10-18 12:20

      Nothing.Rightly so.

      vandeventer.sarel - 2012-10-18 14:13

      If someone comes to my home, kills some of my family members i would hunt down every one involved. Sadam hussein was indirectly responsible for 9/11. He was one of the sponsors. People should stop blaming bush and blair, they only did what any one would have done. So if u disagree, what would u do if people come to your home kills some of your family members and u know where they are and who sponsored them?

  • miquette.caalsen - 2012-10-18 12:01

    I also have a question, why is it that the "bad guys" (in this case the US) are always said to have killed/murdered MILLIONS of people (look at the example here in SA (or atleast the News24 bit of it) also where Apartheid apparently killed millions more than what even the TRC tallied. So here's my question: name them. Name the millions. The literally millions of Jews killed during the Holocaust can be named, so name these millions killed for "national security". If you can, that means you have proof and I am perfectly willing to accept that truth and proof of it and it will certainly have a sharp effect on my view on the Al Qaida 9/11 history.

  • noedig.greene - 2012-10-18 12:21

    The USA gevernment is keeping its citizens in the dark about their shady dealings in Arab countries, there must be something they are doing outthere otherwise how do you explain so much effort&money from Taliban al-Qaeda to kill innocent US citizens. So in future the US gorvernment & al-Qaeda must direct their firepower at each other and leave innocent USA,Pakistan,Afganistan,Iran citizens out of it.

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