19 Mar 2007

What Was Redacted From Khalid Sheikh Muhammad’s Confession?

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Jack Cashill has two possible suggestions.

In the recent military tribunal hearing on his combatant status, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad owned up to 29 separate acts of terror in which he served, at the very least, as “responsible participant.” Some such acts, September 11 for instance, he claimed to have successfully masterminded and executed.

Others he helped plan but, happily, did not manage to pull off. These include schemes to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago, the New York Stock Exchange and the Panama Canal as well as plots to assassinate Pope John Paul II and presidents Clinton and Carter.

It is likely that KSM has inflated his role in many of these events, but just as likely that he was at least involved.

The Department of Defense does not edit a word out of 28 of the 29 acts that KSM listed. But one act, number 3 in KSM’s line-up, the DOD originally redacted entirely.

The numerical placement seems critical here. In number 1, KSM assumes responsibility for the “1993 World Trade Center Operation,” and there is no reason to doubt him.

In number 2, he takes credit for “the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z.” Although KSM overstates his control of the operation, there is little reason to question his involvement.

In number 4, KSM admits his participation in the “Shoe Bomber operation to down two American airplanes.” Again, this seems like a credible claim.

Number 3, however, was originally posted as “REDACTED.” This was before the Internet started humming about its likely contents.

Given the placement of number 3 high among the provable acts of terror committed against Americans on American soil, I and others speculated that KSM may very well have been staking claim to one of two events.

One is the Oklahoma City bombing. As has been well enough documented, convicted conspirator Terry Nichols made multiple trips to the Philippines when KSM’s “nephew,” Ramzi Yousef, was living there. Yousef was constructing the bombs for the impending aviation attack that KSM refers to as “the Bojinka operation.”

According to a recent House report, Nichols traveled with the book, ”The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives,” and just happened to show up in Cebu City at the exact same time as master bomber Yousef.

This was November 1994, six months before the Oklahoma City bombing. Nichols changed his itinerary immediately after Yousef’s lab was busted by the Manila police in January 1995 and left the county in haste.

In “Against All Enemies,” Clinton anti-terror czar Richard Clarke has this to say about the visits of these two terrorists to the same city in the same country at the same time: “We do know that Nichols’ bombs did not work before his Philippine stay,” writes Clarke, “and were deadly when he returned.”

The second likely suspect for the redacted terror act was TWA Flight 800, the 747 blown out of the sky off the coast of Long Island on July 17, 1996, Saddam’s national liberation day.

According to two separate sources within the NSA, on the night the plane went down Yousef phoned KSM from his New York City prison and said—in their native Baluchi– “What had to be done has been done, TWA 800″ (last two words unintelligible).”

The next day Yousef asked for a mistrial, arguing in high chutzpah that the environment had turned prejudicial in regard to accused airplane bombers like himself.

Cashill does seem right that the order of the redacted item makes it look like a very important terrorist act. I had wondered if it might have been referring to TWA Flight 800 myself, having read lots of speculation on the Net that Sandy Berger’s efforts at removing Clinton Administration documents from the National Archives may have been occasioned by the necessity to remove Flight 800 references. It’s certainly a good conspiracy theory.

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