Alleged 9/11 mastermind confessed to Pearl execution: U.S.
The suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States confessed to those attacks and to personally executing American journalist Daniel Pearl, according to a revised transcript released Thursday by the U.S. military.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed he planned, funded and trained attackers for 31 terrorist attacks and plots in all when he appeared at a military hearing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Saturday, the transcript says.
The bulk of the transcript was released on Wednesday, but the section regarding Pearl's killing was held back a day to allow time for his family to be notified, according to U.S. Defence Department spokesman Bryan Whitman.
Pearl, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal who was researching a story on Islamic militants, was abducted in Pakistan in 2002.
"I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan," Mohammed is quoted as saying in a transcript.
"For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the internet holding his head," he added.
The hearing, which began Friday and is continuing, is being conducted in secret, with no reporters allowed to attend. The U.S. military is trying to determine whether Mohammed and 13 other alleged terrorist leaders will be prosecuted by military tribunals.
According to the transcript, Mohammed said he was responsible for the Sept. 11 airplane attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington.
"I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z," the transcript quotes Mohammed as saying.
During the hearing, evidence the military has collected against Mohammed in connection with the Sept. 11 attackswas presented, the transcript shows. Officials seized Mohammed's computer, which contained the airplane hijackers' names and photos, and a photo of one of their pilots' licences. Letters from al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden were also found.
Mohammed showed some regret that the Sept. 11 attacks killed so many people.
"When I said I'm not happy that 3,000 had been killed in America, I feel sorry even," he is quoted as saying in the transcript. "I don't like to kill children and the kids."
Takes credit for Bali bombings
Mohammed was captured in Pakistan on March 1, 2003. He had been on the FBI's most wanted list since Sept. 11, 2001.
According to the transcript, Mohammed also confessed Saturday to a slew of other attacks, including the 1993 bombing in the World Trade Center basement that killed six people and injured about 1,000.
Mohammed also claimed to be involved in the plot led by would-be shoe-bomber Richard Reid, a British citizen who tried unsuccessfully in 2001 to blow up a transatlantic flight with explosives hidden in his shoes. Reid is now serving a life sentence in Colorado.
In addition, he tied himself to attacks including the 2002 bombing of two nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia, and failed attempts to assassinate Pope John Paul II and Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf.
Mohammed said he also thought about assassinating former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and planned bombings of buildings such as the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Empire State Building in New York and Big Ben in London, England. No such attacks have occurred.
Torture talks blacked out in transcript
During Saturday's hearing, Mohammed's allegations that the CIA tortured him while he was in custody were brought up. One of the three military officials leading the hearing asked Mohammed if his confessions were made under duress.
"Is any statement that you made, was it because of this treatment?" the unnamed official asked Mohammed, according to the transcript. "To use your word, you claim torture. Do you make any statements because of that?"
Mohammed's answer is unclear in the transcript, as the military blacked out portions of his response. Later in the transcript, Mohammed is recorded as stating that he gave his confessions without pressure, threats or duress.
The military said it blacked out various sections of the transcript for security reasons.
In another section in the transcript, the unnamed military official, who is a colonel, said Mohammed's allegations of torture will be reported for possible investigation and will be considered when deciding his fate.
On Wednesday, the military also released transcripts from the hearings of Ramzi Binalshibh, who is suspected of helping Mohammed with the Sept. 11 attacks, and Abu Faraj al-Libi, suspected of masterminding two bombings in Pakistan in 2003.