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Khalid Sheikh Mohammed


Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Who is he?:

An al-Qaeda commander arrested in 2003 in Pakistan and held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. The accused and reportedly confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the 2002 Bali bombings, and the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania faces the death penalty at his trial before a U.S. military commission. Confessed killer of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The subject of multiple interrogation sessions using the controversial tactic of water boarding before the practice was banned.


In either 1964 or 1965 in either Pakistan or Kuwait. He is called a Pakistani who grew up in Kuwait. He is believed to be ethnically Baloch. Joined the Muslim Brotherhood at age 16 and was educated in the United States, earning a degree in mechanical engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1986. His father, the late Shaikh Mohammed Ali Doustin Baluchi, was reportedly an imam. His mother, Halema, was likewise religious. He's thought to have at least three brothers and one sister.

Personal life:

Known by at least 50 aliases, he is fluent in Arabic, English, Urdu and Baluchi. Has a wife and children now living in southeastern Iran as determined by correspondence he writes to them from the Guantanamo camp.

Political affiliation:

Was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has attempted to bring Islamic law to governments through political means.


After returning from his collegiate time in the U.S., Mohammed fought with the mujahedeen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan and later with the Muslims in Bosnia. He later had a job for a few years as a project engineer for the Qatari Ministry of Electricity and Water, not breaking his links to terrorism and helping to train and organize operatives. By the mid-1990s he was a wanted man, having orchestrated the planting of an explosive on a Philippine Airlines flight, and fled to Pakistan after a 1996 indictment implicating him in plots to destroy a dozen American airliners. There his relationship with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden began to blossom, and Mohammed joined the terror group in 1999; his nephew, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, also joined and is standing trial for 9/11 alongside KSM. After his 2003 arrest in Pakistan, Mohammed was sent to Guantanamo in 2006, where he's been ever since. According to the U.S. government, he's confessed to planning the 9/11 attacks, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the failed 2001 shoe bomb attempt by Richard Reid to bring down a trans-Atlantic flight, and numerous other plots that didn't materialize including attacks on the U.S. and assassinations of former President Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, and Pervez Musharraf.


There's been debate in the U.S. about both closing the Guantanamo detention camp and trying Mohammed in a federal court in New York. After outcry over the security issues surrounding such a trial, the Obama administration dropped its plans for both. Pretrial motions were still in process in 2013, with trial not expected until 2014 or even later. Mohammed was reportedly waterboarded dozens of times in interrogations, and his lawyers are using this in pretrial arguments; human rights groups are also covering the case because of the waterboarding and length of his detainment. He is charged with 2,973 individual counts of murder and has told the judge that he wants the death penalty so that he'd be an Islamic martyr.


"I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan." -- Mohammed before a military tribunal, 2007
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