9-11 mastermind got "tortured" and he talked!

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  1. Lefty Wilbury

    Lefty Wilbury Active Member

    Nov 4, 2003
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    Al-Qaida operative became fountain of information for U.S.

    Chicago Tribune

    Moral and legal aspects aside, conventional wisdom is that torture simply isn't practical: that someone who is being tortured will say anything to make the torture stop, and that information gleaned through torture is therefore not reliable.

    Some former military and intelligence officers say, however, that physically aggressive interrogation techniques that some human rights groups consider torture can be effective in the short term. When asked for specifics, the technique they cite is "waterboarding," in which water is poured over a subject's face to create the sensation of drowning.

    Consider Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the 39-year-old former al-Qaida operative who was the Sept. 11 mastermind and bearer of many al-Qaida secrets.

    If anyone had a motive for remaining silent it was the man known to terrorism investigators as "KSM." But not long after his capture in Pakistan, in March 2003, KSM began to talk.
    He ultimately had so much to say that more than 100 footnoted references to the CIA's interrogations of KSM are contained in the final report of the commission that investigated Sept. 11.

    Not that everything KSM said was believable. But much of his information checked out in separate questioning of other captures al-Qaida figures.

    What made KSM decide to talk? The answer may be waterboarding, to which KSM was subjected on at least one occasion, according to various accounts.

    Intelligence operatives point out that while waterboarding can break through a suspect's initial resistance, it isn't effective for long-term interrogation.

    Once a suspect begins to communicate, however, an interrogation specialist can put into action a wide range of far more subtle techniques, which include playing to a subject's ego or pretending to be his friend.

    It could not be learned exactly when KSM was "waterboarded," or whether the technique was used more than once. But only 12 days after being captured in Pakistan, on March 1, 2003, KSM made his first reported major revelation.

    As part of his initial proposal for the attack on America, he had "considered targeting a nuclear power plant," KSM said. But al-Qaida chieftain Osama bin Laden "decided to drop that idea," evidently concerned about a Chernobyl-type fallout that might threaten countries adjacent to the United States.

    There are no footnotes keyed to the next 12 days. But on March 24 KSM began talking again, this time about assistance provided by al-Qaida to Zacarias Moussaoui, who was arrested in Minnesota three weeks before Sept. 11 and later pleaded guilty to planning to fly a hijacked airplane into the White House as part of a separate plot.

    On April 17, KSM spoke about the abortive 1995 plot in which several U.S. airliners were to have been brought down simultaneously over the Pacific by bombs smuggled onboard.
    On May 15, KSM began divulging something of the inner workings of al-Qaida. From that point onward, according to the commission's footnotes, KSM became a veritable fountain of information.

    It was Osama bin Laden, he said, who had argued for increasing the number of Sept. 11 targets and planes beyond the four ultimately selected.

    The 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa had cost less than $10,000, KSM continued, adding that after the success of those attacks al-Qaida had decided to focus on "soft targets" in the West like oil refineries, embassies and airliners.

    The Sept. 11 report reflects five productive interrogation sessions during the last two weeks in May 2003, four in June, eight in July, four in August, three in September, three in October and four in November.

    The interrogations continued through the winter and early spring of 2004, producing increasingly detailed information about al-Qaida.

    KSM said bin Laden's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, opposed the Sept. 11 attacks, disagreeing with bin Laden over whether to honor the request of Afghanistan's Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, not to attack the United States.

    In early April 2004, KSM revealed that the 15 young men who joined the hijacking plot for the express purpose of subduing the airplanes' passengers and disabling their crews hadn't known they were to become part of a suicide mission until a month before Sept. 11.

    The last footnote, dated June 15, 2004, reflected KSM's annoyance with hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, who left the United States without al-Qaida's permission in the summer of 2000 to visit his family in Saudi Arabia.

    The commission's report was published in July 2004. But for all the world knows, KSM may be talking still.
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