Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 224.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks has claimed responsibility for plotting for al-Qaida a series of mass-casualty terrorist attacks and assassinations of world leaders, many of which were either thwarted or never came to pass.
In confessing to more than 30 actual or alleged al-Qaida strikes, including 9/11 and the earlier truck bombing of the World Trade Center, between 1993 and his capture in 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confirmed long-held suspicions of his involvement.
He also revealed al-Qaida plans to hit Western targets around the world that had not earlier been discussed by intelligence officials or contained in terror alerts.
Details of the confession, released Wednesday by the Pentagon, could not immediately be confirmed, but many refer to locations for which the United States and other nations have issued terrorism warnings based on what they have deemed credible threats from 1993 to the present.
Among them, according to the extraordinary confession:
- In Israel, where Mohammed said he had dispatched holy warriors to conduct surveillance on "several strategic targets" and planned to crash planes into buildings in the tourist resort of Eilat using aircraft departing Saudi Arabia. That attack has not yet happened.
- In the United States, Mohammed said he had planned or helped plan a second wave of attacks after 9/11 on nuclear power plants, Library Tower in Los Angeles, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Plaza Bank building in Seattle, and the Empire State Building, stock exchange and other financial institutions and bridges in New York. Most of these facilities had been the subject of earlier warnings.
He also said he had coordinated shoe bomber Richard Reid's December 2001 attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic airliner en route to the United States and that a second plane also had been targeted for similar destruction at the same time.
- In Britain, where he said he planned attacks on London's Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf and Big Ben, most of which have been previously mentioned as terror targets by British authorities. Mohammed did not speak of the London transport attacks of 2005, which occurred after his detention.
- The Philippines, home to the al-Qaida affiliated Abu Sayyaf Group, from where Mohammed said he had surveyed and financed plots to kill the late Pope John Paul II in 1994, President Bill Clinton in 1995 and former President Jimmy Carter, as well as blow up the Israeli Embassy in Manila. The capital was also the center of a thwarted plan to blow up a dozen U.S. passenger jets over the Pacific in the mid-1990s, for which Mohammed admitted responsibility, saying he had personally monitored a round-trip Pan Am flight from Manila to Seoul that could have been a target.
- Indonesia, home to the al-Qaida-affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah, where Mohammed said he was directly behind the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings in Indonesia that killed 202 people, many of them Australian tourists. He said he had also planned apparently unsuccessful or unexecuted attacks on the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Jakarta and an oil facility in Sumatra he said was owned by the "Jewish former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger."
- Thailand, which has been hit by a spate of Muslim-Buddhist violence in recent months, where Mohammed said planned attacks on nightclubs frequented by American and British citizens and was responsible for "surveying and financing" a plot to destroy an Israeli El Al airliner taking off from the Bangkok airport. These have not taken place.
- Kenya, where Mohammed claimed responsibility for the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned Indian Ocean resort that killed 18 and the near simultaneous attempted shoot-down of an Israeli passenger jet. Mohammed did not mention the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
- Panama, where Mohammed claimed to have been behind a plot to bomb and destroy the Panama Canal that has not occurred.
- Turkey, where Mohammed said he had financed operations to hit U.S., British and Israeli targets. Several attacks have taken place in Turkey since Mohammed's arrest but none have been publicly linked to him.
- South Korea, where Mohammed claimed to have planned to attack U.S. military bases and nightclubs frequented by Americans. None have been hit.
- Australia, Azerbaijan, India and Japan, where Mohammed said he planned to blow up either the US and Israeli embassies or both. None of those facilities have been attacked.
Other alleged intended targets mentioned by Mohammed on which there have been no attacks are NATO headquarters in Brussels and US military vessels and oil tankers plying the Straits of Hormuz and Gibraltar and the Port of Singapore, one of the world's largest.