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True Lies By: Gregory Gethard
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, June 26, 2009


Was it all a lie?

That’s the question some are asking about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man behind the 9/11 attacks. Mohammed, the subject of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, recently told a military tribunal that he lied while under pressure from interrogators.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Mohammed lied about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. In addition, he misled his interrogators about the identities of other al-Qaeda agents.

This, naturally, has irked many on the Left, who would like to use the CIA’s interrogation tactics as a way to discredit the Bush administration. Predictably, the ACLU expressed outrage regarding Mohammed’s treatment. Wrote the Times:

A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, said Mohammed's statements raised questions about the effectiveness of the CIA's interrogation program.

"It underscores the unreliability of statements obtained by torture," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's National Security Project.

However, the evidence is clear that Mohammed was not lying during his interrogations. Instead, he is lying now that he has been brought before a military tribunal. How do we know? Because after being interrogated, Mohammed revealed to authorities important – and accurate – information about al-Qaeda.

According to this article on ABC News’ website, Mohammed was quick to give up valuable information about al-Qaeda after being waterboarded in front of a woman:

It was an extraordinary amount of time for him to hold out," one former CIA officer told ABCNews.com. "A red-headed female supervisor was in the room when he was being water-boarded. It was humiliating to him. So he held out."

"Then he started talking, and he never stopped," this former officer said.

Most famously, while under duress, Mohammed revealed to authorities intricate details about his involvement in planning the attacks of 9/11. He also confessed that he was not only involved with the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl, but that he was the one who slit his throat and beheaded him. He also revealed that he had a hand in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing perpetrated by his nephew; that he played a role in the 2003 Bali Nightclub bombings; that he helped Richard Reid’s attempt to bring a plane down via a shoe bomb; that he planned to hit various targets in London; that he wanted to hit other skyscrapers throughout the United States; and even that he plotted to kill both Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II.

Most important, Mohammed provided information on an al-Qaeda underling who many said was in line to become the next Mohammad Atta. In the early part of 2003, U.S. agents were hot on the trail of a man only known as Jaffar the Pilot. Jaffar became known to authorities during interrogations of other al-Qaeda detainees, pointed to as the man most likely, and capable, of launching the next horrible terrorist attack against the world.

However, none could properly identify Jaffar the Pilot, causing the feds to chase down a series of false leads. Then, one day, a series of pictures was shown to Mohammed, who identified his protégé as Adnan Gulshair El Shukrijumah.

Wrote the US News and World Report about Mohammed’s information regarding his protégé:

A wide array of other intelligence information and sources indicate that El Shukrijumah may have been asked by al Qaeda to lead a new "suicide squad," like that led by Atta. The Saudi Arabia-born El Shukrijumah is also suspected of having ties to former Chicago gang member Jose Padilla, now being detained as an "enemy combatant" because authorities believe he wanted to detonate a "dirty bomb" on American soil. Law enforcement officials are not sure what exactly El Shukrijumah may be planning, but they say he could target gas stations, fuel trucks, subway systems, trains, or bridges. "Our No. 1 priority," Larry Mefford, assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, told U.S. News, "is to find sleeper cells if they exist. If El Shukrijumah were to be in the U.S., he would possibly be in that category."

After Mohammed identified El Shukrijumah, authorities began a manhunt while also unearthing his background, as well as the myriad of terrorist plots he has been linked to.

El Shukrijumah’s place of birth is unknown; it’s been speculated he was born in Saudi Arabia, others have said Guyana. However, El Shukrijumah’s family moved to South Florida in the mid-80s. He attended classes in a Miami-area community college while working as a computer technician. Eventually, he found his way to an al-Qaeda terrorist camp to receive his training.

El Shukrijumah has been alleged to have been involved with many al-Qaeda plots. He was named by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004 as one of seven men who were plotting to attack the Panama Canal and a wide array of financial centers in the New York area. El Shukrijumah was also alleged, along with Jose Padilla, to have gone to a Canadian university in attempts to obtain the ingredients needed to manufacture a dirty bomb, which they planned to detonate on American soil. And, as a “home-grown” jihadist completely fluent in English and familiar with the ins and outs of American culture, he was believed to be one of al-Qaeda’s most dangerous members.

El Shukrijumah’s whereabouts are unknown as he has so far been able to elude capture. But by being fingered as one of al-Qaeda’s most dangerous members, he has been so far unsuccessful in launching an attack on American shores. And it’s all due to information provided by Mohammed. As one official anonymously quoted in the U.S. News and World Report confided, "We can't possibly overstate the value that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been to us."

In the wake of the “torture memos” release, many critics of the Bush administration’s tactics, and even President Obama himself, have strongly criticizing the use of waterboarding. However, the evidence clearly shows that it had results and it saved lives. High ranking members of Obama’s administration also agree:

President Obama’s national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.

“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country,” Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.

Admiral Blair sent his memo on the same day the administration publicly released secret Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of interrogation methods that the Obama White House has deemed to be illegal torture. Among other things, the Bush administration memos revealed that two captured Qaeda operatives were subjected to a form of near-drowning known as waterboarding a total of 266 times.

Admiral Blair’s assessment that the interrogation methods did produce important information was deleted from a condensed version of his memo released to the media last Thursday. Also deleted was a line in which he empathized with his predecessors who originally approved some of the harsh tactics after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past,” he wrote, “but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.”

It’s convenient for Mohammed to claim – and for some on the Left to believe – that he lied during his interrogation sessions. But the counterterrorism successes made possible by Mohammed’s intelligence information, divulged during those very interrogations, are compelling evidence that he was telling the truth.


Gregory Gethard is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer.


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