Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — “KSM” to himself and his captors — is either the world’s busiest terrorist or biggest blowhard, maybe much of both.
If it’s true that al-Qaida operatives are taught how to game the American legal system, Mohammed must have been daydreaming about blowing something up — a skyscraper, an airliner, an embassy, the Panama Canal — the day the instructor taught about the right against self-incrimination.
Mohammed confessed to an astonishing range of murderous mayhem. He planned, he said, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks “from A to Z”; the 1993 World Trade Center attack; the abortive 2001 attack on an airline by shoe bomber Richard Reid; the 2002 bombing of a Bali nightclub; bombing a Kenyan hotel popular with Israelis; and the 2002 murder of a Marine in Iraq.
For good measure, he later added that he had beheaded American journalist Daniel Pearl.
He also, he said, plotted assassination attempts against two former U.S. presidents, Pope John Paul II and other world leaders, and dreamed of blowing up assorted global landmarks.
Mohammed’s transcript was released last week after he appeared in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in a closed hearing before a tribunal reviewing his status as an unlawful combatant and determining whether the United States should continue to hold him, as if letting him go was ever a real possibility.
Even if most of what Mohammed confessed to is empty boasting, if only a small part of it is true, he is a truly murderous individual, his aside that he doesn’t like killing “children and kids” notwithstanding.
For that reason, he should not be tried in a secret court based on secret evidence. Much of the West seems to have lost sight of why we are fighting a war on terror. Having Mohammed answer for his crimes in open court, under a system that the world sees as fair, would establish that, yes, there are people out there who plot nonstop to do us all harm. Besides, Mohammed has already done most of the prosecution’s work for it.