Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) is an al-Qaeda operative and attack planner held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. He is the self-professed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and claims to have planned or helped to plan 30 other terrorist attacks or plots.Terry McDermott, “9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Finally on Trial at Guantanamo,” Daily Beast, April 4, 2012, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/05/04/9-11-mastermind-khalid-sheikh-mohammed-finally-on-trial-at-guantanamo.html. He is the uncle of Ramzi Yousef, a Pakistani terrorist convicted of carrying out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. KSM was captured by Pakistani authorities in 2003 and transferred to Guantanamo in 2006. In 2008, he and four co-defendants were charged on eight counts of capital murder. His trial is ongoing.“9/11: Khalid Shaikh Mohammad et al. (2),” Office of Military Commissions, accessed February 28, 2017, http://www.mc.mil/CASES.aspx; “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Fast Facts,” CNN, last modified December 22, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/world/meast/khalid-sheikh-mohammed-fast-facts/.

Born in Pakistan in the mid-1960s, KSM moved to Kuwait with his family as a child. In the early 1980s, at the age of 16, KSM joined the Kuwaiti chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to The 9/11 Commission Report, KSM became “enamored of violent jihad at [Brotherhood] youth camps in the desert.” There, he met Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, an Egyptian-educated Pashtun and firebrand cleric. Sayyaf preached about the necessity of jihad, inviting Kuwaiti Brotherhood members to Afghanistan to take up arms against the invading Soviets.Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer, The Hunt for KSM, (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013). KSM was also inspired by the extremist texts of influential Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 145, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf;
Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind;
Dale C. Eikmeier, “Qutbsim: An Ideology of Islamic-Facism,” U.S. Army War College 37, no. 1 (2007): 89, http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a485995.pdf.

At the time of KSM’s enrollment in the Brotherhood, his older brother Zahed served as a student leader of the group at Kuwait University. Several of KSM’s other brothers held membership in the group as well. One of them would eventually go on to lead the Kuwaiti Brotherhood, and to repeatedly send funds to KSM—though there is little publicly available information on those transactions.Thomas Joscelyn, “Osama bin Laden on the Muslim Brotherhood,” Long War Journal, May 10, 2012, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2012/05/osama_bin_laden_on_the_muslim.php;
Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind.

KSM studied mechanical engineering in North Carolina between 1984 and 1986, returning to Kuwait in December of that year.Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind. Soon after, KSM moved to Afghanistan to join the anti-Soviet jihad in the country’s north. According to the U.S. government, KSM attended the Sada training camp, run by future al-Qaeda co-founder Abdullah Azzam. In addition to Azzam, KSM is believed to have met Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Riduan Isamuddin, a.k.a. Hambali, who would go on to become the operational leader of the Indonesian jihadist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).“The Guantanamo Docket: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10024-khalid-shaikh-mohammed/documents/11;
Daniel DeFraia, “KSM Trial: Timeline of a terrorist,” PRI, May 4, 2012, https://www.pri.org/stories/2012-05-04/ksm-trial-timeline-terrorist;
Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer, The Hunt for KSM, (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013).
KSM fought in Afghanistan for less than a year, and in 1987, moved to Peshawar, Pakistan. There he linked up with Brotherhood desert-camp preacher Abdul Rasul Sayyaf—who was then the leader of a Peshawar-based Afghan-refugee political party, Ittihad e-Islami. KSM taught engineering at Sayyaf’s university, Dawa al-Jihad (“convert and struggle”), and educated and prepared Afghan refugees for war against the Soviets.Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind;
Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer, The Hunt for KSM, (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013).

Beginning in 1992, while living in Pakistan, KSM communicated with and transferred funds to his New Jersey-based nephew Ramzi Yousef. Yousef was in the midst of planning an attack on the World Trade Center, which culminated in the February 26, 1993, World Trade Center bombing that killed six people and injured over 1,000 more. Soon after the attack, KSM was joined by Yousef in Karachi.Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind. Later in 1993, KSM relocated to Doha, Qatar, at the suggestion of Shaykh Abdallah Bin Khalid Bin Hamad al-Thani, a member of Qatar’s ruling family. KSM worked as an engineer in the Qatari Ministry of Electricity and Water, and lived in a house provided by the al-Thani family.Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind;
“The Guantanamo Docket: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10024-khalid-shaikh-mohammed/documents/11.

KSM did not stay in Qatar for long. In early 1994, he and Yousef moved to Manila, Philippines, believing it would be a relatively easy place from which to plan terrorist attacks.Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind. That summer, the pair—alongside accomplices Abdul Hakim Murad and Wali Khan Amin Shah—began to plan the “Bojinka” plot: the intended bombing of 12 U.S. commercial passenger planes over the Pacific Ocean within two days. In addition to the plot, KSM and Yousef planned to bomb U.S.-bound cargo carriers by smuggling explosives on board, and to assassinate Pope John Paul II and U.S. President Bill Clinton during the leaders’ respective trips to Manila in late 1994.Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind. KSM and Yousef prepared for the “Bojinka” plot by building and testing explosives—including at an empty Manila movie theater. In the fall of 1994, Yousef planted an explosive on a Philippine Airlines flight—leaving the airplane before the flight took off. The explosion killed one Japanese businessman, though the pilot was able to land the plane despite damage to the aircraft.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 147, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf;
Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind.

The “Bojinka” plot was thwarted by Philippine authorities in January 1995 after they discovered bomb-making materials in KSM and Yousef’s apartment. Authorities had been called to the apartment due to a fire in the men’s makeshift explosives laboratory. Soon after, KSM fled to Qatar, and Yousef to Pakistan. Yousef was arrested by Pakistani authorities the following month.Raymond Bonner and Benjamin Weiser, “Echoes of early design to use chemicals to blow up airlines – Asia – Pacific – International Herald Tribune,” New York Times, August 11, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/11/world/asia/11iht-web.0811manila.2447764.html;
Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind.

While living openly in Qatar in early 1996, KSM was secretly indicted in the Southern District of New York in relation to his funding of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the planning of the thwarted “Bojinka” plot.Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind;
“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Fast Facts,” CNN, last modified December 22, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/world/meast/khalid-sheikh-mohammed-fast-facts/.
Later that year, U.S. authorities attempted to capture KSM in Qatar, though he had received a tip and fled to Pakistan. Settling in Karachi, KSM reportedly traveled to the Tora Bora Mountains in eastern Afghanistan where he met with Osama bin Laden for the first time since 1989. KSM appealed to bin Laden for funds and material to carry out a largescale attack in the United States. KSM initially proposed hijacking an airplane and crashing it into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia—though bin Laden dismissed the CIA as an inconsequential target. Bin Laden, however, agreed to fund an attack and asked KSM to join al-Qaeda. KSM declined, saying that he only sought the means to carry out an attack and wished to operate independently.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 147, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf.

In mid-late 1996, KSM traveled onto India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, where he met with JI operational leader Riduan Isamuddin a.k.a. Hambali. KSM invited Hambali to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden, and the two men agreed that JI and al-Qaeda would cooperate “on targets of mutual interest,” according to the U.S. government.“The Guantanamo Docket: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10024-khalid-shaikh-mohammed/documents/11;
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 149, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf.
In the early-mid 2000s, JI was responsible for several largescale attacks, including the Bali bombings in October 2002 that killed 202 people. According to the U.S. government, KSM was responsible for arranging a courier to deliver funds to JI leaders in Indonesia to conduct that attack, as well as for attacks such as the bombing of the Marriott hotel in Jakarta in August 2003 and the attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in September 2004.“The Guantanamo Docket: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10024-khalid-shaikh-mohammed/documents/11;
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 149, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf.

In late 1998 or early 1999, bin Laden officially approved KSM’s plot to weaponize airplanes and crash them into buildings in the United States.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 149; 167, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. At some point in 1999, KSM moved to Kandahar and began providing the group with “media facilitation and technical assistance,” according to the U.S. government.“The Guantanamo Docket: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10024-khalid-shaikh-mohammed/documents/11.

KSM’s role in the terror group grew with the new millennium. In late 2000, KSM was appointed head of al-Qaeda’s media committee in Kandahar.“Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing for ISN 10024,” Guantanamo Transcript, March 10, 2007, http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2007/images/03/14/transcript_ISN10024.pdf. He also worked to organize a network of safe houses in Pakistan to be used by al-Qaeda militants following the attacks. Many of these safe houses were reportedly operated by jihadists belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of Pakistan’s largest militant Islamist organizations.Terry McDermott, “9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Finally on Trial at Guantanamo,” Daily Beast, April 4, 2012, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/05/04/9-11-mastermind-khalid-sheikh-mohammed-finally-on-trial-at-guantanamo.html. On September 11, 2001, KSM watched television reports on the attacks from an internet café in Karachi.Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind.

In the wake of 9/11, KSM continued to provide passage and shelter for al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan.Terry McDermott, “9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Finally on Trial at Guantanamo,” Daily Beast, April 4, 2012, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/05/04/9-11-mastermind-khalid-sheikh-mohammed-finally-on-trial-at-guantanamo.html. In November 2001, following the death of al-Qaeda military chief Mohammed Atef, KSM assumed responsibility for al-Qaeda’s “Cell for the Production of Biological Weapons”—which oversaw the production of anthrax and other agents, according to KSM’s own account.“The Guantanamo Docket: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10024-khalid-shaikh-mohammed/documents/11.

Just two months later, in January 2002, KSM beheaded American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi, according to KSM’s account. Pearl had been recently kidnapped by a “mishmash” of Pakistani jihadists, according to a local investigator. KSM then reportedly bought Pearl from the jihadists, hired a cameraman, and filmed the beheading, later telling U.S. authorities that he “decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl.”“Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing for ISN 10024,” Guantanamo Transcript, March 10, 2007, http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2007/images/03/14/transcript_ISN10024.pdf;
Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind.
Following the alleged beheading, KSM continued to plot terrorist attacks and assume higher positions within al-Qaeda. In December 2002, he was appointed to al-Qaeda’s Chief of External Relations, according to his own account.“The Guantanamo Docket: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10024-khalid-shaikh-mohammed/documents/11.

KSM was captured by members of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID) in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on March 1, 2003. He was immediately transferred to U.S. custody, and detained at undisclosed CIA prisons overseas.Terry McDermott, “The Mastermind,” New Yorker, September 30, 2010, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/09/13/the-mastermind;
“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Fast Facts,” CNN, last modified December 22, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/world/meast/khalid-sheikh-mohammed-fast-facts/;
“The Guantanamo Docket: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10024-khalid-shaikh-mohammed/documents/11.
On September 6, 2006, then-U.S. President George Bush publicly acknowledged that KSM had been transferred to Guantanamo two days prior.“14 terror suspects profiled,” CNN, September 7, 2006, http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/09/06/terrorr.detainees/;
“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Fast Facts,” CNN, last modified December 22, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/world/meast/khalid-sheikh-mohammed-fast-facts/;
“The Guantanamo Docket: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10024-khalid-shaikh-mohammed/documents/11.
That December, the Department of Defense’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF) concluded that KSM posed a high risk and was of high intelligence value.“The Guantanamo Docket: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed February 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10024-khalid-shaikh-mohammed/documents/11. The Senate Intelligence Committee later revealed in late 2014 that the CIA had waterboarded KSM at least 183 times.“The Senate Committee’s Report on the C.I.A.’s Use of Torture,” New York Times, December 9, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/09/world/cia-torture-report-document.html.

During a military tribunal hearing at Guantanamo in March 2007, KSM claimed responsibility for planning or helping to plan 31 different terrorist attacks or plots. Most notably, KSM claimed he was “responsible for the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z.”“Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing for ISN 10024,” Guantanamo Transcript, March 10, 2007, http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2007/images/03/14/transcript_ISN10024.pdf. Other attacks or plots include the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; the thwarted “Bojinka” plot; the attempted assassinations of then-President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II; the failed shoe bomb plot carried out by Richard Reid in 2001; the 2002 Bali bombings; various plots to attack American, Jewish, and British targets in Turkey; various plots to attack targets “deep in” Israel; and a plot to assassinate former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.“Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing for ISN 10024,” Guantanamo Transcript, March 10, 2007, http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2007/images/03/14/transcript_ISN10024.pdf. According to the New York Times, it is “not clear how many of [KSM’s] expansive claims [are] legitimate.” As The 9/11 Commission Report has stated, KSM’s vision was “theater, a spectacle of destruction with KSM as the self-cast star—the superterrorist.”Adam Liptak, “Suspected Leader of 9/11 Attack Is Said to Confess,” New York Times, March 15, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/15/us/15gitmo.html;
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 154, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf.

In February 2008, a military commission indicted KSM and four fellow Guantanamo detainees on capital murder charges related to the 9/11 attacks. Specifically, the defendants were charged with conspiracy; attacking civilians; attacking civilian objects; intentionally causing serious bodily injury; murder in violation of the law of war; destruction of property in violation of the law of war; hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft; and terrorism.“9/11: Khalid Shaikh Mohammad et al. (2),” Office of Military Commissions, accessed February 28, 2017, http://www.mc.mil/CASES.aspx;
“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Fast Facts,” CNN, last modified December 22, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/world/meast/khalid-sheikh-mohammed-fast-facts/.
The U.S. government announced it would seek the death penalty against the defendants.“Executions Could Happen At Guantanamo,” CBS News, February 13, 2008, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/executions-could-happen-at-guantanamo/;
“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Fast Facts,” CNN, last modified December 22, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/world/meast/khalid-sheikh-mohammed-fast-facts/;
Josh White, Dan Eggen, and Joby Warrick, “U.S. to Try 6 On Capital Charges Over 9/11 Attacks,” Washington Post, February 12, 2008, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/11/AR2008021100572.html?sid=ST2008021101227.

The arraignment for KSM and his co-defendants began that June. KSM was handed 2,973 fresh charges of murder, one for every victim on 9/11. KSM told the court that he wanted to represent himself and to plead guilty to the charges. He also said he was aware that his plea could lead to the death sentence, telling the judge that he was prepared to become a “martyr.”“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Fast Facts,” CNN, last modified December 22, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/world/meast/khalid-sheikh-mohammed-fast-facts/;
“Accused 9/11 Plotters Begin Trials as Legal Issues Linger,” PBS Newshour, June 5, 2008, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/terrorism-jan-june08-gitmo_06-05/.
Between 2009 and 2012, the status of KSM’s trial fluctuated as U.S. authorities requested freezes and delays in the proceedings. In November 2009, the Justice Department announced that the trial would be transferred to a New York court room. That decision was reversed in April 2011 when Attorney General Eric Holder said that the trial would be re-transferred to Guantanamo. The capital charges were re-filed against KSM and his four co-defendants that May.“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Fast Facts,” CNN, last modified December 22, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/world/meast/khalid-sheikh-mohammed-fast-facts/.

In May 2012, KSM and his four co-defendants appeared in public for the first time in more than three years for their arraignment at Guantanamo. In the 13-hour hearing, the five defendants refused to answer the judge’s questions, “trying to give the impression they [were] in a different world than the rest of the court,” according to the Associated Press.Associated Press, “5 charged in 9/11 attack resist Gitmo hearing,” Washington Times, May 5, 2012, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/5/911-mastermind-back-guantanamo-judge/. KSM attended his pretrial hearing at Guantanamo in October 2012, and likened the causalities in the 9/11 attacks to the “millions” killed by U.S. forces.“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Fast Facts,” CNN, last modified December 22, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/world/meast/khalid-sheikh-mohammed-fast-facts/. Judge James Pohl, responded to KSM’s remarks during pre-trial stating that “this is a one-time occurrence,” and that he was “not going to entertain personal comments from the accused.”Daphne Eviatar, “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Speaks,” Huffington Post, December 17, 2012, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ksm-speaks_b_1975006?view=print&comm_ref=false.

An attorney on the case, James Connell, told reporters in 2012 that the trial “will take years to complete, followed by years of appellate review.”Associated Press, “5 charged in 9/11 attack resist Gitmo hearing,” Washington Times, May 5, 2012, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/5/911-mastermind-back-guantanamo-judge/.

In February 2013, Pohl raised the question of who was controlling the “censorship button” that cuts out audio from the courtroom, on a 40-second delay, to protect classified information. The censorship button was pressed during an exchange between the judge and defense counsel, after which Pohl stated for the record that “the 40-second delay was initiated not by me” continuing “if some external body is turning the commission off under their own view what ought to be…then we are going to have a little meeting.”Krishna Andavolu, “Strange Things Are Happening at Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Trial,” Vice, February 3, 2013, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ex59wa/strange-things-are-happening-at-khalid-sheikh-mohammeds-trial. The defense attorney filed an emergency defense motion “to prohibit electronic monitoring and recording of attorney-client communication.” Pohl ordered that no third party can cut the courtroom feed and that external facilities must disconnect any mechanism that gives them said ability.Krishna Andavolu, “Strange Things Are Happening at Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Trial,” Vice, February 3, 2013, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ex59wa/strange-things-are-happening-at-khalid-sheikh-mohammeds-trial.

In May 2016, the defense filed a motion to have both the judge and prosecutors disqualified for “destruction of evidence” for the dismantling of a covert “black site” where KSM was believed to have been tortured, and thus destroying vital evidence for the case.“United States of America v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin ‘Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Mustafa Ahmed Adam Al Hawsawi,” Office of Military Commissions, January 19, 2017, http://www.mc.mil/Portals/0/pdfs/KSM2/KSM%20II%20(AE425T(KSM%20AAA)(RULING)).pdf. In August 2016, the defense attorney also submitted a request for all documentation regarding the destruction of the site. Both motions were denied. In January 2017, Pohl granted the defense’s motion to compel discovery, providing the defense team with limited classified documents. All other motions of compelling discovery and dismissal have been denied.“United States of America v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin ‘Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Mustafa Ahmed Adam Al Hawsawi,” Office of Military Commissions, January 19, 2017, http://www.mc.mil/Portals/0/pdfs/KSM2/KSM%20II%20(AE425T(KSM%20AAA)(RULING)).pdf.

In September 2017, KSM began preparing for the 25th pre-trial hearing of his case. Military prosecutors estimated that jury selection for the trial would begin in January 2019. The fact KSM has not formally entered a plea, and the involvement of a large amount of classified material in the case has slowed down the proceedings.Joanna Walters, “Will Accused 9/11 Architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Ever Come to Trial?” Guardian (London), September 11, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/11/will-khalid-sheikh-mohammed-come-to-trial-9-11-attacks.

Military prosecutors in March 2019 claimed to have tapes of phone calls between KSM and three of his accused co-conspirators speaking in code about the September 11 attacks in the months before the event.Rosenberg, Carol, “U.S. Said to Have Tapes of Alleged 9/11 Mastermind Plotting With Co-Conspirators,”  New York Times, March 26, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/us/politics/9-11-khalid-shaikh-mohammed.html.

On August 30, 2019, Judge Colonel W. Shane Cohen set January 11, 2021, as the tentative start of jury selection in the trial.Carol Rosenberg, “Trial for Men Accused of Plotting 9/11 Attacks is Set for January 2021,” New York Times, August 30, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/30/us/politics/sept-11-trial-guantanamo-bay.html. After Cohen retired, Colonel Douglas K. Watkins became the presiding judge on the case. On December 18, 2020, Watkins delayed the start of the trial further because of the COVID-19 crisis, which has made it difficult for participants to travel to Cuba for proceedings. The earliest that jury selection can begin is November 7, 2021.Carol Rosenberg, “Pandemic Delays Start of 9/11 Trial Past 20th Anniversary of Attacks,” New York Times, December 18, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/18/us/politics/sept-11-trial-covid-delay.html.

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