In “Unravelling the confessions of the 9/11 chief” in The Sunday Times (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist), Al-Jazeera’s Yosri Fouda suggests that Khalid Sheikh “I Did It All” Mohammed is as much a pragmatist as a religious zealot. It is hard to escape the impression in this piece that Fouda admires Ramzi Binalshibh, if not KSM, and considers the former to be a true mujahid, a true man of Allah.
In April 2002, as chief investigative reporter on Al-Jazeera, I was taken blindfolded to meet Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at a safe house in Karachi.
He introduced himself as the head of Al-Qaeda’s military committee and admitted responsibility for 9/11. Altogether I spent 48 hours with KSM “” as he is known to the intelligence community “” and another key figure, Ramzi Binalshibh, whom he described as the 9/11 co-ordinator. Ramzi was captured in September 2002; KSM in March 2003….
He wants to take the credit for high-profile attacks because he is a pragmatist, a power-hungry mastermind, and realises his time is up; he might as well gain sympathy as an ideological hero.
He lived for this spotlight, the chance to say: “Look at this spectacular operation I pulled off against the most powerful nation on earth.” But he is not a fantasist. KSM is a guy who enjoys plotting and being in the field. He could be the head of the mafia and also the imam of a group of people praying in Afghanistan. He would enjoy both roles.
Another possibility is that he might be taking credit so other people, still at large, can avoid the blame. We can never know for sure. One thing that is clear is his wish to be dignified as a prisoner of war. When he mentions George Washington, he is addressing America. He is saying: “This is your own hero, you used to be oppressed by the Brits and the Brits considered George Washington to be a terrorist.”…
He is not a man of Allah but a man of action. I knew that when they were captured it would be KSM who talked first. Ramzi would be much tougher to interrogate: a true believer in Allah, in his own way. I would bet when he was captured Ramzi thought: “My true jihad has just started.” KSM would have thought: “This is it, game over.”