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Americas
September 11 suspect 'confesses'
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed also admits to other al-Qaeda operations, the US says.
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2007 15:47 GMT
Mohammed claimed that he was
tortured by the CIA [AP]
The alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attack in the US has admitted his role in that and 29 other "terror plots", according to a 26-page transcript released by the Pentagon.
 
"I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A-to-Z," Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement read during a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

The transcripts released on Wednesday by the Pentagon also refers to a claim by Mohammed that he was tortured by the CIA, after his arrest in March 2003.

 

However, he said he was not under duress when he confessed to his role in the attacks at Saturday's hearing.

Confession

The hearing was being held to determine whether Mohammed, a Pakistani national, can be defined as an "enemy combatant" and can be detained indefinitely, but also opens the door to criminal proceedings, where he will be put on trial.

 

Hit list

2002: Bali nightclub bombings
2002: Bombing of a Kenya beach
         resort frequented by Israelis
2002: missile attack on an Israeli
         airliner in Kenya
2001: World Trade Centre and the
         Pentagon
1993: Truck bombing of World Trade
         Centre

Planned attacks:
- Sears Tower in Chicago
- Empire State Building in New York
- New York Stock Exchange
- Nuclear power plants and suspension
  bridges in New York
-
US and Israeli embassies in Asia
  and Australia
- Library Tower, Los Angeles
-
US naval vessels and oil tankers
  around the world
-
Panama Canal
-
Big Ben clocktower in London
-
Heathrow airport
-
Shoe bombing by Richard Reid on
   trans-Atlantic flight

Planned assassination attempts:
-
Jimmy Carter, then US president
-
Bill Clinton, then US president
-
John Paul II, Roman Catholic pope
-
Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan
   president

Using his own words, the transcript connects Mohammed to many "terror plots" attempted or carried out in the past 15 years - and to others that have not occurred.

 

Mohammed said he beheaded the US journalist, Daniel Pearl: "I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl.

 

"For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the internet holding his head."


Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan in 2002.

Mohammed has long been considered a prime suspect in the case.

 

He also 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.

 

In addition, he said he was responsible for the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia in 2002, in which 202 people were killed.

 

Other plots he said he was responsible for included planned attacks against the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Empire State Building, New York Stock Exchange, the Panama Canal, Big Ben and Heathrow Airport in London - none of which occurred.

 

He also said he was involved in planning assassination attempts against Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both former US presidents.

 

Mohammed is believed to have been the responsible for planning 28 individual attacks.

 

Torture

 

"Is any statement that you made, was it because of this treatment, to use your word, you claim torture," the colonel asked during the hearing. "Do you make any statements because of that?"

 

Portions of Mohammed's response were deleted from the transcript, and his immediate answer was unclear.

 

He later said his confession read at the hearing to the long list of attacks was given without any pressure, threats or duress.

 

The colonel said that Mohammed's torture allegations would be "reported for any investigation that may be appropriate" and also would be taken into account in consideration of his enemy combatant status.

 

Regret

 

In a remark apparently spoken through a translator, Mohammed appeared to express regret for some of the casualties of September 11.

 

"The government has finally brought someone into Guantanamo who apparently admits to being someone who could be called an enemy combatant"

Mark Denbeaux, defence lawyer

"When I said I'm not happy that 3,000 been killed in America, I feel sorry even. I don't like to kill children and the kids," the transcript said.

 

The Pentagon also released transcripts of the hearings of Abu Faraj al-Libi and Ramzi Binalshibh.

Both refused to attend the hearings, although al-Libi submitted a statement.

 

Al-Libi, through his personal representative, claimed that the hearing process is unfair and that he will not attend unless it is corrected.

 

"The detainee is in a lose-lose situation," his statement said.

 

Binalshibh, a Yemeni, is suspected of helping Mohammed with the September 11 attack plans and is also linked to a foiled plot to crash an aircraft into London's Heathrow Airport.

 

Al-Libi is a Libyan who reportedly masterminded two bombings 11 days apart in December 2003 that targeted Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, for his support of the US-led war on "terror".

 

Secret hearings

 

The hearings, are being conducted in secret by the US military as it tries to determine whether 14 alleged terrorist leaders should be declared "enemy combatants" who can be held indefinitely and prosecuted by military tribunals.

 

"We need to know if this purported confession would be enough to convict him at a fair trial or would it have to be suppressed as the fruit of torture"

Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch

If, as expected, they are declared enemy combatants, the military would then draft and file charges against them.

The detainees would then be tried under the new military commissions law signed by George Bush, the US president, in October.

 

The 14 were moved in September from a secret CIA prison network to the prison at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, where about 385 men are being held on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

  

Mark Denbeaux, a Seton Hall University law professor, who represents two Tunisians held at Guantanamo, said that based on the transcripts, Mohammed might be the only detainee who would qualify as an enemy combatant.

 

"The government has finally brought someone into Guantanamo who apparently admits to being someone who could be called an enemy combatant," Denbeaux, a critic of most of the detentions, said.

"None of the others rise to this level. The government has now got one," he said.

 

Independent hearing

 

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, questioned the legality of the closed-door session and confession and whether the confession was the result of torture.


"We won't know that unless there is an independent hearing," he said.

 

"We need to know if this purported confession would be enough to convict him at a fair trial or would it have to be suppressed as the fruit of torture?"

 

The military held 558 combatant status review tribunals between July 2004 and March 2005 and the panels concluded that all but 38 detainees were enemy combatants who should be held.

Those 38 were eventually released from Guantanamo.

Source:
Al Jazeera and Agencies
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