9/11 architect reveals details

He spoke of 34 `participants'

March 29, 2006|By JOSH MEYER | JOSH MEYER,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has told his interrogators that at least 34 people were "participants" in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, including a mysterious Jordanian who supposedly prepared 10 of the hijackers by training them to butcher camels and sheep with Swiss Army knives.

Mohammed's statements were read aloud in court this week during the sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged as a co-conspirator in the attacks in the United States.

Inner workings

His statements, disclosed more than four years after the attacks, opened a window into the inner workings of the Sept. 11 plot in terms of who might have participated in it and how it was carried out.

During interrogations at undisclosed locations overseas, Mohammed broke down the participants in the Sept. 11 attacks into six groups, each having differing levels of involvement in the plot and prior knowledge of it, according to a 58-page summary that was read Monday in lieu of Mohammed's testifying.

In the top tier were Osama bin Laden, his loyal aide and military commander Muhammed Atef and Mohammed, along with his designated liaison to the hijackers, Ramzi Binalshibh, the summary stated.

The other member of the top tier was Abu Turab Al-Urduni, a Jordanian al-Qaida veteran who, according to Mohammed's testimony, had "full knowledge" of the plot because of his job as trainer of 10 of the "muscle" hijackers who were assigned to commandeer the planes, subdue the pilots and keep the passengers at bay.

Abu Turab, as he was referred to in the summary, had years of experience with al-Qaida and was working at the terror network's Al-Matar "complex" in Afghanistan in late 2000 and early 2001 when 10 would-be hijackers were sent to him for training, Mohammed's interrogation summary stated.

Abu Turab trained the men in conducting hijackings, disarming marshals and building and using explosives, Mohammed said. He said Abu Turab showed them how to gain strength through bodybuilding and how to use basic English words and phrases.

At a second al-Qaida camp, Al Faruq, "Abu Turab also had each hijacker butcher a sheep and camel with a Swiss knife to prepare them for using their knives during the hijackings," the summary stated.

Cockpits first

In consultation with Mohammed, it said, Abu Turab instructed the "muscle" hijackers to focus on seizing the cockpit first "and then worry about seizing control over the rest of the plane."

As part of his successful effort to maintain operational security, Mohammed said, Abu Turab trained the hijackers in truck bombings, blowing up buildings and hijacking trains so that they wouldn't know for sure what their assignment would be once they reached the United States.

That way, if they were caught, they wouldn't be able to tell authorities that the plot involved airplane hijackings.

Josh Meyer writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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