Thursday, March 15, 2007

9/11 Mastermind Confesses in Guantanamo

9/11 Mastermind Confesses in Guantanamo

WASHINGTON (AP) - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, confessed to that attack and a chilling string of other terror plots during a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a transcript released Wednesday 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.

The transcripts also refer to a claim by Mohammed that he was tortured by the CIA, although he said he was not under duress at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo when he confessed to his role in the attacks.

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

Using his own words, the extraordinary transcript connects Mohammed to dozens of the worst terror plots attempted or carried out in the last 15 years—and to others that have not occurred. All told, thousands have died in operations he directed.

His words draw al-Qaida 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-Qaida wanted to down a second trans- Atlantic aircraft during would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid's operation.

Mohammed 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 bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia. In 2002, 202 were killed when two Bali nightclubs were bombed.

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 happened.

He said he was involved in planning assassination attempts against former Presidents Carter and Clinton, attacks on U.S. nuclear power plants and suspension bridges in New York, the destruction of American and Israeli embassies in Asia and Australia, attacks on American naval vessels and oil tankers around the world, and an attempt to "destroy" an oil company he said was owned by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Sumatra, Indonesia.

He also claimed he shared responsibility for assassination attempts against Pope John Paul II and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

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

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