Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (خالد شيخ محمد) is reported to have been born in Kuwait to parents from Baluchistan in Pakistan. He spent some of his years in Kuwait. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood at age sixteen. He returned to Pakistan soon after, and after spending some time there. He went to the United States for further study at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University in the US where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1986. He attended Chowan College for a semester (beginning in 1983) before transferring to the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. The following year he went to Afghanistan, where he and his brothers alongside Osama bin Laden fought against the Soviet Union during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. There, he was introduced to Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, of the Islamic Union Party. Mohammed moved to Qatar to work in a government office as a project engineer for the Qatari Ministry of Electricity and Water. He stayed at this job until 1996. In early 1996 he fled to Pakistan to avoid capture by U.S. authorities.
His first involvement with terrorism was a financier of the 1993 truck bomb attack on the World Trade Centre. This attack was planned by a group of conspirators including Ramzi Yousef, Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammad Salameh, Nidal Ayyad and Ahmad Ajaj, for which his nephew, Ramzi Yousef, was later found guilty. After the World Trade Center 1993 bombings, Mohammed decided to engage more directly in anti-U.S. activities. He traveled to the Philippines in 1994 to work with Yousef on Operation Bojinka, a Manila-based plot to destroy twelve commercial airliners flying routes between the United States, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. The plot was foiled after their flat caught fire and Yousuf was tracked to Pakistan.
Mohammed traveled in 1995 to Sudan, Yemen, Malaysia, and Brazil to visit elements of the worldwide jihadist community and meet with Osama bin Laden later that year. Mohammed began work on the September 11 attacks in 1998. In 2003 he was working on a plot to hijack aircraft and crash them into Heathrow airport, Big Ben and Canary Wharf when he was captured in March at a house in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
According to the 9/11 Commission Report he was “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.” The first hijack plan that Mohammed presented to the leadership of al-Qaeda called for several airplanes on both east and west coasts to be hijacked and flown into targets. His plan evolved from an earlier foiled plot known as Operation Bojinka, which called for 10 or more airliners to be bombed in mid-air or hijacked for use as missiles. In late 1998 or early 1999, bin Laden gave approval for Mohammed to go forward with organizing the plot. Bin Laden provided leadership for the plot, along with financial support. Bin Laden was also involved in selecting people to participate in the plot, including choosing Mohamed Atta as the lead hijacker.
In a 2002 interview with Al Jazeera journalist Yosri Fouda, Mohammed admitted his involvement, along with Ramzi Binalshibh, in the “Holy Tuesday operation”. Mohammed was arrested on March 1, 2003 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan and ultimately ended up at Guantanamo Bay. According to the “unclassified summary of evidence” presented during the Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing in 2007 a computer hard drive seized during the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed contained the following:
- information about the four airplanes hijacked on 11 September 2001 including code names, airline company, flight number, target, pilot name and background information, and names of the hijackers
- photographs of 19 individuals identified as the 11 September 2001 hijackers
- a document that listed the pilot license fees for Mohammad Atta and biographies for some of the 11 September 2001 hijackers.
- images of passports and an image of Mohammad Atta.
- transcripts of chat sessions belonging to at least one of the 11 September 2001 hijackers.
- three letters from Osama bin Laden
- spreadsheets that describe money assistance to families of known al Qaeda members
- a letter to the United Arab Emirates threatening attack if their government continued to help the United States
- a document that summarized operational procedures and training requirements of an al Qaeda cell
- a list of killed and wounded al Qaeda militants.
In March 2007, Mohammed testified before a closed-door hearing in Guantánamo Bay. According to transcripts of the hearing released by the Pentagon, he said, “I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z.” The transcripts also show him confessing to:
- Organizing the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,
- The Bali nightclub bombings,
- Richard Reid’s attempted shoe bombing,
- Planning the attacks on Heathrow Airport and Big Ben clock tower in London,
- Pearl’s murder in 2002
- Planned assassination attempts on Pope John Paul II, Pervez Musharraf and Bill Clinton.
List of confessions
- The February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City
- A failed “shoe bomber” operation
- The October 2002 attack in Kuwait
- The nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia
- A plan for a “second wave” of attacks on major U.S. landmarks after the 9/11 attacks, including the Library Tower in Los Angeles, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Plaza Bank Building in Seattle and the Empire State Building in New York
- Plots to attack oil tankers and U.S. naval ships in the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Gibraltar and in Singapore
- A plan to blow up the Panama Canal
- Plans to assassinate Jimmy Carter
- A plot to blow up suspension bridges in New York City
- A plan to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago with burning fuel trucks
- Plans to “destroy” Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf and Big Ben in London
- A planned attack on “many” nightclubs in Thailand
- A plot targeting the New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial targets
- A plan to destroy buildings in Eilat, Israel
- Plans to destroy U.S. embassies in Indonesia, Australia and Japan in 2002.
- Plots to destroy Israeli embassies in India, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Australia
- Surveying and financing an attack on an Israeli El-Al flight from Bangkok
- Sending several “mujahideen” into Israel to survey “strategic targets” with the intention of attacking them
- The November 2002 suicide bombing of a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya
- The failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet leaving Mombasa airport in Kenya
- Plans to attack U.S. targets in South Korea
- Providing financial support for a plan to attack U.S., British and Jewish targets in Turkey
- Surveillance of U.S. nuclear power plants in order to attack them
- A plot to attack NATO’s headquarters in Europe
- Planning and surveillance in a 1995 plan (the “Bojinka Operation”) to bomb 12 American passenger jets
- The planned assassination attempt against then-U.S. President Bill Clinton during a mid-1990s trip to the Philippines.
- “Shared responsibility” for a plot to kill Pope John Paul II
- Plans to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
- An attempt to attack a U.S. oil company in Sumatra, Indonesia, “owned by the Jewish former [U.S.] Secretary of State Henry Kissinger”
- The beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl
And for a sequence of articles dealing with the Obama administration’s response to the Military Commissions, see: Don’t Forget Guantánamo (February 2009), Who’s Running Guantánamo? (February 2009), The Talking Dog interviews Darrel Vandeveld, former Guantánamo prosecutor (February 2009), Obama’s First 100 Days: A Start On Guantánamo, But Not Enough (May 2009), Obama Returns To Bush Era On Guantánamo (May 2009), New Chief Prosecutor Appointed For Military Commissions At Guantánamo (May 2009), Pain At Guantánamo And Paralysis In Government (May 2009), My Message To Obama: Great Speech, But No Military Commissions and No “Preventive Detention” (May 2009), Guantánamo And The Many Failures Of US Politicians (May 2009), A Child At Guantánamo: The Unending Torment of Mohamed Jawad (June 2009), A Broken Circus: Guantánamo Trials Convene For One Day Of Chaos (June 2009), Obama Proposes Swift Execution of Alleged 9/11 Conspirators (June 2009), Predictable Chaos As Guantánamo Trials Resume (July 2009).
Click On Links:
September 11, 2001 Timeline Of Events
Osama Bin Laden Calls Obama ‘Powerless’
Barack Obama A Muslim
Public Trail for Khalid Sheik Mohammed
The Afghanistan War
Obama’s Keeps Silent About The Afghanistan War
Obama Ignore Soldiers Dying In Afghanistan
Obama Promises One Year Later