9/11 mastermind pours anti-US tirade at Guantanamo hearing
Washington: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the master brain behind the deadly September 11 attacks, on Thursday launched a scathing diatribe on US government policies, saying that America had killed many more people in the guise of national security.
Wearing a previously banned camouflage vest, the 9/11 attack plotter was in court as part of a weeklong hearing focusing largely on the secrecy rules that will govern legal proceedings against him at Guantanamo Bay.
Speaking at the pre-trial hearing at Naval Air Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the terrorist said that “American government uses national security as it chooses".
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s five-minute long lecture denouncing the government's arguments about the need to protect national security baffled the US military court, inviting a rebuke from the judge Army Col James Pohl.
The 47-year-old Mohammed questioned the prosecution’s motive behind keeping for seeking to keep secret some details of what happened to him during years of captivity in the CIA's secret prisons.
"Many can kill people under the name of national security, and to torture people under the name of national security," the Arabic-speaking Mohammed said through a translator. "And detain their underage children under the name of national security."
In an apparent reference to Osama bin Laden, Mohammed noted that "the president can take someone and throw them into the sea in the name of national security."
He also made an oblique reference to Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-Yemeni militant killed in a September 2007 US drone strike, and told the judge not to be affected by the "crocodile tears" of prosecutors when they refer to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the 2001 attacks.
"When the government feels sad for the killing of 3,000 on Sept. 11, we also should feel sorry that the US government ... has killed thousands of people," Mohammed said, before correcting himself to say millions of people.
"Your blood is not made of gold and ours is made of water. We are all human beings," he said.
Baffled by Khalid’s vitriolic statements against the US government, the military court judge Army Col James Pohl, who had earlier allowed the 9/11 plotter to speak, said he wouldn't allow it to happen again.
"This is a onetime occurrence," the judge said. "No matter how heartfelt, I am not going to entertain personal comments of any accused about the ways things are going."
Mohammed, who has told authorities he was behind the hijacking plot, is charged along with four co-defendants with crimes that include terrorism and murder. He has a history of making inflammatory statements in the handful of times when he has had an opportunity to speak.
The five defendants were captured in Pakistan between 2002 and 2003 and have been confined at Guantanamo Bay since 2006.