Sunday, May 16, 2010

Khalid the Master Mind

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a U.S. educated jihadi, played a major role in the plot to hijack airlines and attack buildings. He was allegedly Osama bin Laden’s number three man. At a March, 2007 military hearing, he appeared without a lawyer and without the right to bring witnesses. He told ---actually boasted to --a US military commission of twelve anonymous military judges: "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z," Khalid also took full credit for beheading reporter Daniel Pearl with “my blessed right hand.” This despicable and possibly mad fellow also took credit for major roles in 28 other terrorist acts that included plots against John Paul II and former U.S. Presidents. He claimed responsibility for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, and a future posting will deal with that. . He also said he had been tortured, but maybe the torture did not work as CIA sources said he was their “toughest prisoner.” But we also hear that this just meant he resisted water-boarding longer than others before begging to tell all. After he was captured in Pakistan on March 1, 2003 , he was held by the CIA for six months before being sent to Guantanimo. His sons, 7 and 9, were taken to the U.S. for questioning.

He painted himself as an Islamic George Washington, and probably exaggerated his role. But it is unclear to what extent many of his claims can be believed. Few believed his full confession and European intelligence people saw it as the result of too much torture. . By subjecting him to torture, the Bush administration has probably foreclosed any normal legal process, whose results could be believed or at least pursued. For example, independent investigators will never know about his close ties to the Pakistani intelligence service or to senior Islamists there. In 1996 he was indicted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the CIA allegedly knew he was in Quatar, but did not act. A June, 2001 CIA memorandum reported that he traveled to the US with some regularity. How did he evade the spooks? He will not be able to shed light on any of this.

. By trying him as an “enemy combatant” in a military commission rather than as the dastardly criminal he is, the Bush administration gave currency to the claim that there is a moral equivalence between the American use of torture and the Al Qaeda resort to terrorism.

The timing of his trial suggests those in power wanted to remind people that the war on terror was far more important than the various bush administration scandals then occupying the headlines His long confession reminds us that Al Qaeda appears to have outthought our 40 billion dollar intelligence operations and supports the official story of 9/11 that bureaucratic glitches and snafus account for our failure to anticipate 9/11.The confession also plays into the theme that the war on terror must trump all other considerations. The Khalid as central figure narrative rests upon Fouad’s interview of him in 2002 that was shown on Al-Jazeera, the case made in the indictment of Moussaoui, and , now, Khalid’s fulsome confession.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s nephew , Ramzi Ahmed Yousef ( born 1967) was a Pakistani born in Kuwait who was connected with a plot to kill the pope (January, 1995) and carry out other terrorist activities. Some day we may have enough evidence to conclude that he was more important than his uncle. He entered the US in 1992 with an Iraqi passport and was known to have placed over thirty telephone calls to Iraq. In his Jersey City home, he assembled a bomb to be used at the World Trade Center in 1993 and rented the van to deliver the device. .After the attack, he fled to Paskistan.

In December, 1994 he placed a bomb on Philippine Airlines Flight 434, but despite the explosion the pilots managed to safely land the plane. This was to be a test run for larger plan called “Bojinka” to plant explosives on twelve airliners, and simultaneously kill 4,000 people. There was also a plan to assassinate Pope John Paul II during his visit to the Phillipines. The Philippine police raided the apartment where he was manufacturing bombs and seized his partnerAbdul Hakim Murad. This man had attended flight school in the United States the previous year. Murad supplied information Bojinka and told about a” third plan” to fly commercial airliners into the World Trade Center, the Sears Tower, and other buildings in the United States. The Philippine police insist that the information they developed had been passed on to the FBI’s New York office. There is no evidence the FBI did anything with this information, nor is there evidence that Congressional 9/11 investigators knew anything about Bojinka or the “third plan.”

Yousef, known there as “the chemist,” played a major role in developing it and visited the Philippines several times. He claimed to be Osama bin Laden’s personal envoy, sent to set up an operation among Muslim rebels Earlier, in 1992, he planned the WTC 1993 bombing while in those islands. Among his recruits were government agents, but what the Philippine government told the US is unknown, other than it appears to have made a serious effort to share all information about the subsequent Bojinka plan. By keeping track of Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, the Philippine authorities uncovered Bojinka . A CNN reporter there who followed the story believed the plotters were helped by some Pakistani ISI agents. Yousef ‘s computer and notebook were fouind, and he fled and was arrested in Pakistan and extradited to the United States.

The FBI arranged for Gregory Scarpa, Jr., an imprisoned mobster, to provide extensive outside communications for Yousef. The Bojinka plan provided valuable information that might have uncovered the 9/11 plot, but the FBI did not fully exploit his communications and ended the program out of fear it would compromise 9 other cases that were pending. When the Scarpa relay was cut off, Yousef immediatgely developed other effective means to communicte with the outside. The cooperative gangster had the book thrown at him. Richard Labeviere has reported that Yousef had been a CIA employee in the 1980s, and Newsweek claimed that the FBI was looking into that..

Yousef was sentenced in 1996 life imprisonment for his role in the Bojinka Plot, particularly the part calling for the bombing of US commercial airlines in the Far East. It was recommended that he spend his entire sentence in solitary confinement. In 1998 Bojinka plotter Abdul Hakim Murad offered to reveal the missing aspects of the Boninka plan for a plea deal, but no arrangement was reached.

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