Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

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Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (Arabic: خالد شيخ محمد; also transliterated as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, and other ways) (March 1, 1964 or April 14, 1965 – present) was an important figure in Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization, where he masterminded numerous plans and came to head the group's propaganda operations sometime around 1999.

The 9/11 Commission Report calls him "the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks." The Report also calls him a "terrorist entrepreneur" who — though he had engaged in planning terrorist attacks since his first such plot in 1994 — did not join al-Qaeda until late 1998 or early 1999. He also reportedly helped finance his nephew Ramzi Yousef's World Trade Center bombing and conspired with him to create the foiled Operation Bojinka plot (not directly related to al-Qaeda). As an al-Qaeda member he helped in the Bali nightclub bombings, the failed bombing of American Airlines Flight 63, the murder of Daniel Pearl, and other militant attacks.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has used 27 known aliases, including Ashraf Refaat Nabith Henin, Khalid Adbul Wadood, Salem Ali, Abdul Majid, Abdullah al-Fak'asi al-Ghamdior, and Fahd Bin Adballah Bin Khalid. An acronym widely used for his name is KSM. Some American government sources called him the "Forrest Gump of terrorism" or "Forrest Gump of al-Qaeda" because he was involved in so many Islamic militant plans from 1994 up until his capture in March 2003.


Early life

Mohammed is usually reported to have been born in Kuwait. His parents are said to have come from the Baluchistan province of Pakistan, just like his nephew, Ramzi Yousef (three years KSM's junior). He joined the Muslim Brotherhood at age 16.

He attended Chowan College, a small Baptist school in Murfreesboro, North Carolina, for a few years (beginning in 1983) before transferring to the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and completing a degree in mechanical engineering in 1986. The following year he went to Afghanistan and joined the fight against the Soviet Union during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. (Some sources believe he was fighting in Afghanistan before he moved to the United States.) There, he was introduced to Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the head of the Islamic Union Party. The 9/11 Commission Report notes on page 149 that "Sayyaf was close to Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance." Mohammed became Sayyaf's principal student. He fought the Soviets for three months.

Professional career

After the Afghan jihad, Mohammed worked for an electronics company, working on communications equipment. In 1988, he helped to head an NGO paid for by Sayyaf, which sponsored and aided Afghan fighters against the Soviets. He continued this work until 1992, when he fought with Muslim fighters in Bosnia and supported this effort financially.

Next, Mohammed moved to Qatar to work in a government office as a project engineer for the Qatari Ministry of Electricity and Water. He stayed at this job until 1996, all the while supporting terrorism covertly. He took many long vacations to help train and organize terrorists around the world. In 1996 he fled to Pakistan to avoid capture by U.S. authorities.

Terrorist activity

Mohammed became an anti-U.S. terrorist, despite the fact that he had previously lived and studied in the U.S. and enjoyed his stay. By his own account, it was his disagreements with U.S. policy toward Israel that angered him.

He had a small role in the World Trade Center bombing of 1993. He learned in 1991 or 1992 that his nephew, Ramzi Yousef, was planning to launch a bombing attack inside the United States. Mohammed gave Yousef advice and assistance over the phone, and kept track of Yousef's progress. On November 3, 1992, he gave a wire transfer of $660 to Yousef's co-conspirator, Mohammed Salameh, to help complete the bombing operation. Because of this, U.S. authorities began to investigate Mohammed after the bombing was carried out.

After seeing the respect that Yousef had gained from the attack, Mohammed decided to engage in anti-U.S. activities as well. He travelled to the Philippines in 1994 to work with Yousef on Operation Bojinka, a Manila-based plot to destroy twelve commercial airliners flying routes between the United States and East and Southeast Asia. The 9/11 Commission Report says in Chapter 5 ( that "this marked the first time KSM took part in the actual planning of a terrorist operation."

In December, 1994, Ramzi Yousef had engaged in a test of a bomb on Philippine Airlines Flight 434 using only about 10 percent of the explosives that were to be used in each of the bombs to be planted on United States airliners. The test resulted in the death of a Japanese national on board a flight from the Philippines to Japan. Mohammed conspired with Ramzi Yousef on the plot until it was discovered on January 6, 1995. Yousef was captured February 7 of that same year. Mohammed had also developed a failed plot to assassinate the U.S. president during Clinton's November 1994 trip to Manila.

By the time the Bojinka plot was discovered, Mohammed was already safely in Qatar, back at his job as a project engineer at the country's Ministry of Electricity and Water. He traveled in 1995 to Sudan, Yemen, Malaysia, and Brazil to visit elements of the worldwide jihadist community, although no evidence connects him to overt terrorist activities in any of those locations. On his trip to Sudan he attempted but failed to meet with Osama Bin Laden, who was at the time living there with the aid of Sudanese political leader Hassan al Turabi. After a request to arrest KSM came to the Qatari government from the United States in January 1996, Mohammed fled to Afghanistan, where he renewed his relationship with Rasul Sayyaf and formed a working relationship with the newly migrated Osama bin Laden later that year. "According to KSM, this was the first time he had seen Bin Laden since 1989. Although they had fought together [in Afghanistan] in 1987, Bin Laden and KSM did not yet enjoy an especially close working relationship."

Just as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was reestablishing himself in Afghanistan, Bin Laden and his colleagues were also transplanting their operations to the same country. Abu Hafs al-Masri/Mohammed Atef, Bin Laden's chief of operations, arranged a meeting between Bin Laden and KSM in Tora Bora sometime in mid-1996, in which KSM outlined a plan that would eventually become the quadruple hijackings of 2001. Bin Laden urged KSM to become a full-fledged member of Al Qaeda, but he continued to refuse such a commitment until around early 1999, after the bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam convinced him that Bin Laden was truly committed to attacking the United States. Mohammed wished to retain some degree of autonomy as a mujahid. His continuing relationship with Abdul Rasul Sayyaf--an opponent of the Taliban--had to be kept hidden from Bin Laden and the rest of Al Qaeda, as full disclosure would have been problematic.

The 9/11 Commission Report notes on page 149 that KSM moved his family from Iran to Karachi in Pakistan in 1997. That same year, he attempted without success to join mujahid leader Ibn al Khattab in Chechnya, another area of special interest to KSM. He was apparently unable to travel to Chechnya, and so he instead went back to Afghanistan, where over time he became more and more imbedded in Al Qaeda until his eventual acceptance of Bin Laden's invitation to move to Kandahar and join the organization as a full-fledged member (although he claims that he still refused to swear a formal oath of loyalty to Bin Laden). Eventually, he became leader of Al Qaeda's media committee. He also worked on unfulfilled plans for attacks in Israel and Southeast Asia.

In 1996, he was secretly indicted by the Southern District of the state of New York for his alleged involvement in Operation Bojinka.

Mohammed's cousin, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, was one of the major financers of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Mohammed is also a suspect in the Tunisian synagogue bombing.

Private life

While he was in the Philippines in late 1994 and early 1995, he said that he was a Saudi or a Qatari plywood exporter named Abdul Majid. He had parties with alcohol and spent lavish times with Manila women. He often went to go-go bars and karaoke clubs and held meetings at expensive hotels. He made large tips.

He is widely reported to have buzzed a tower with a rented helicopter to impress a female dentist who was one of his girlfriends. He called her on a cell phone while buzzing the tower, telling her to wave.

At the time, Mohammed was staying at a lavish apartment across the street from a person that would become the President of the Philippines. He would often take trips to places such as Brazil to promote Konsojaya, a Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia based company that was secretly funding militant Muslims, including Yousef and Mohammed, in Southeast Asia.

According to Philippine police, a waitress at the Manila Bay Club on Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City named Arminda Costudio was introduced to Mohammed, who was using the name Salem Ali and claiming that he was a Qatari businessman. Costudio said that he was always with Ramzi Yousef, and her description was identical to Abdul Hakim Murad's description. Both people described that he had "excess meat" on his middle finger. Neither knew him under his true name. Costudio met him again twice at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City in mid-1994. Each time, he wore a white tuxedo and paid for dinner with a wad of cash. He gave out candies to group members. Costudio became the girlfriend of Wali Khan Amin Shah while he was in Metro Manila. Mohammed had a girlfriend, Rose Masquera, who worked at a Quezon City bar.

Mohammed went on scuba trips to Puerto Galera with Yousef. The trips may have been a cover to train Abu Sayyaf militants.

Attempts at capture

On September 11, 2002, members of Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) variously claimed to have killed or captured Mohammed during a raid in Karachi which resulted in the capture of Ramzi Binalshibh. Some people have reported that Mohammed escaped, but that his family was captured.

On March 1, 2003, the ISI reported that they had captured him in a raid in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The raid was variously reported to be all-Pakistani, in the presence of the United States FBI, or a joint raid with the FBI. Following the report of the capture, some Pakistani officials say he was immediately transferred to US custody, while others said he remained in Pakistani custody. The raid took place at the home of Ahmed Abdul Qudoos, who was also reportedly arrested as an al-Qaida agent. Qudoos' family told media that Mohammed was not in the house, that Qudoos was disabled and had never been associated with al-Qaeda, and that the police conducting the raids did not ask for Mohammed. Other newspaper accounts said that former Taliban officials in Pakistan said that Mohammed was not captured and was still at large.

Many reports have indicated that Mohammed was either an asset or a member of the ISI during the 1980s or 1990s, and that he has carried a Pakistani passport since the 1980s.

Mohammed has also been widely described as living a lavish lifestyle, even while he was on the run from the law. He travelled all over the world on false passports, and got very close to getting captured by U.S. authorities on numerous occasions.

He was close to former Jemaah Islamiyah leader Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali.

On October 12, 2004, Human Rights Watch reported that 11 suspects, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, had "disappeared" to a semisecret prison in Jordan, and might have been tortured there under the direction of the CIA ([1] (, [2] (, [3] ( Jordanian and American officials have denied those allegations. ([4] (, [5] ( .

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