Khalid Sheikh MohammedNationality: Kuwaiti
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a Kuwaiti born to Pakistani parents, has been charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, attacking civilians and civilian objects, causing serious bodily injury, murder in violation of the laws of war, destruction of property in violation of the laws of war, hijacking, terrorism and providing material support for terrorism, for his alleged role in planning the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The government plans to try Mohammed with four others accused of being directly involved in planning the 9/11 attacks. If convicted, he and the others face the death penalty.
Mohammed was indicted in New York in 1996 for his alleged involvement in a Philippines-based plot to blow up 12 US-bound commercial airliners in a 48-hour time period. The indictment, made public in 1998, and federal arrest warrant provide details of how he operated within al Qaeda. The documents were unsealed in 1998 after Ramzi Yousef, Mohammed's nephew, was sentenced for his role in the 1996 airliner plot.
Serious concerns have been expressed over Mohammed’s treatment while in US custody and the possible use of statements obtained through torture as evidence against him. During his Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) hearing on March 10, 2007, Mohammed claimed that he was tortured while in US custody and that as a result, he made false confessions about both himself and others. In addition, he alleged that his children were detained and abused as well.
The details of Mohammed’s allegations from the transcript of his CSRT hearing are redacted, but the CIA acknowledged on February 5, 2008 that the agency had subjected him and two other detainees to “waterboarding” while holding them in secret custody in 2002 and 2003. Waterboarding, a torture technique in which a prisoner is made to believe he is drowning, violates both the federal anti-torture statute and the War Crimes Act. Although the CIA videotaped the interrogations in which terrorism suspects were waterboarded and subjected to other “severe interrogation techniques,” the CIA confirmed that at least two videotapes documenting the interrogations had been destroyed in 2005. Several officials said that the tapes were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that the video could expose agency officials to legal or security risks.
Human Rights Watch Commentary:
- Stacy Sullivan commentary, “Sabotage in Guantánamo,” salon.com, July 15, 2008
- Joanne Mariner commentary, “Arraigning the 9/11 suspects, Guantánamo-style,” salon.com, June 7, 2008
- Human Rights Watch press release, “US: Don’t Railroad 9/11 Case Through Military Commissions,” June 4, 2008
- Tom Malinowski, testimony section, "Improving Detainee Policy: Handling Terrorism Detainees within the American Justice System," before the US Senate Judiciary Committee, June 4, 2008
- Jennifer Daskal, “Lawless in Guantanamo,” salon.com, May 2, 2008
- Human Rights Watch press release, “US: 9/11 Terrorist Suspects Should Be Tried in Federal Court,” February 11, 2008
- Human Rights Watch press release, “US: Hold Torturers Accountable,” on the CIA’s use of waterboarding on Mohammed and two other al-Qaeda suspects, February 5, 2008
- Human Rights Watch report section, “Off the Record: U.S. Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the ‘War on Terror,’” describing the detention of family members of detainees, including Mohammed’s children, June 2007
- Human Rights Watch press release, “US: Release 9-11 Suspect’s Description of Alleged Torture”, March 15, 2007
- Reed Brody, “Prisoners Who Disappear: Ghost Detainees of the United States,” International Herald Tribune, October 12, 2004
- Human Rights Watch briefing paper section, “‘Disappeared:’ The CIA’s Long-Term ‘Ghost Detainees’”, October 2004