Khaled Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the self-confessed mastermind and organiser of the 9/11 attacks was arrested in Rawalpindi in 2003. He has still not stood trial. Originally he was to be tried by a military commission, then a civilian court, and now a military commission again. There have been three different judges in charge at my last count. His defence lawyer commented that he did not now expect KSM to go on trial until 2017 at the earliest.
The proceedings have been shrouded in intense secrecy. Even those journalists sitting in the Guantanamo Bay courtroom are separated from the legal teams, defendants and judge by a soundproof glass screen. In one bizarre incident the judge, Col. James Pohl, who had agreed to a forty second delay in the audio playback enabling these observers to hear what is being said, was surprised when the censor button was activated. It seems he did not know who was in control of this censor button, or why they had pressed it!
By the time his trial actually comes around maybe he’ll have died of old age! It is difficult not to feel that there are some powerful interests who would rather he never came to trial. Perhaps someone is afraid he has a tale to tell which they would rather as few people as possible get to hear. There was plenty in the original 9/11 Commission Report to raise suspicions about the terrorism career of KSM and who his true sponsors were. Below I have listed some early evidence linking KSM and Al-Qaida to the Qatari Royal family, the close strategic allies of the west.
Much shocking & startling evidence against Qatar was seen by the 9/11 commission. Much of this evidence is summarised in a remarkable Congressional Research Service report entitled “Qatar: Background & US Relations” RL31718, written by Middle East analyst Christopher M. Blanchard for the Library of Congress. This report was updated in December 2005.
- Former Qatari Interior minister Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani “provided safe harbor and assistance to Al-Qaeda leaders during the mid-1990s, including the suspected mastermind of the September 11 hijacking plot, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.” Source: 9/11 Commission Report & former US government officials (see Blanchard p.9)
- Note the 9/11 Commission report identified KSM as the main source of the at least US$ 400,000 in finance for the 9/11 attacks, but failed to discover the source of his funds. Source: 9/11 Commission Report, p. 172.
- KSM moved to Qatar at the suggestion of Qatari minister Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani in the early 1990s and was given a job as an engineer in the Qatari Ministry of Electricity & Water until he fled the country in 1996. During this time he travelled abroad much in connection with terrorist activity. Source: 9/11 Commission Report, p. 147.
- “Former U.S. officials and leaked U.S.government reports state that Osama Bin Laden also visited Doha twice during the mid-1990s as a guest of Shaikh Abdullah bin Khalid…” “During a January 1996 visit to Doha, Bin Laden reportedly ‘discussed the movement of explosives into Saudi Arabia, and operations targeted against U.S. and U.K. interests in Dammam, Dharan, and Khobar, using clandestine al Qaeda cells in Saudi Arabia’” Apparently these were preparations for the attack on the Khobar Towers military barracks which killed 19 US servicemen. Source: “Case Closed” by Steven F. Hayes in the Weekly Standard, 24 Nov. 2003. (The article was based on a memo from the US Department of Defence to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee.).
- In January 1996 FBI officials narrowly failed to arrest Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, then an employee of the Qatari government in the Ministry of Electricity & Water. He was to be arrested in connection with an investigation of his nephew Ramzi Yousef, thought to be the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing. He had fled the country. “Some former U.S. officials have since stated their belief that a high ranking member of the Qatari government alerted Mohammed to the impending raid.” Source: 9/11 Commission Report p.73
- One news report quotes Jack Cloonan the lead FBI agent on the case against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as claiming someone tipped off Mohammed shortly after Qatari officials were told of the plan to arrest him. The article also quotes a former CIA official who wanted to remain anonymous, that there were others in the Qatari royal family who provided safe haven for Al-Qaida, not just Abdallah Khalid Al-Thani. Source: “Al Qaeda Ally?” by Brian Ross & David Scott of ABC News 7/2/04
- Another news report quotes Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism director for the White House, as accusing Abdallah Khalid Al-Thani of channelling both personal & Qatari state monies into al-Qaida front organisations disguised as charities. Source: “Qatar security chief has alleged ties to al-Qaida” by Josh Meyer & John Goetz in the Los Angeles Times, 28/3/03. (These journalists wrote to the pentagon alerting them to concerns that US military forces were based in a state whose head of internal security is linked to al-Qaida, the reply they received simply professed ignorance of the situation, but no further investigations or actions are known to have followed from their warnings.)
- The CRS report continues that more recent terrorism concerns centre on claims that the late Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi may have transited Qatar after September 11th. 2001 and benefited from a safehouse and financial support of a member of the ruling Al-Thani family. Source: “Intelligence Break Let Powell Link Iraq & Al-Qaeda”, Patrick E. Tyler in the New York Times, 3 Feb. 2003.
ADDITIONAL CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE LINKING QATAR & AL-QAIDA
- Qatar was been singularly free of terrorist attacks in spite of the large concentrations of US military personnel & security considered by some to be relatively relaxed.
- Exceptionally on the 19 March 2005 a theatre in Doha was attacked by a car bomb during the performance of a Shakespeare play. Western expatriates were the apparent target, a British teacher was killed. It was a suicide attack by an Egyptian called Omar Ahmad Abdullah Ali, an employee of the Qatari state petroleum company with no known links to any terrorist organisation, and no history of militancy. The attack has not been firmly attributed to any known terrorist group.
- Some attributed the attack to al-Qaida, but this was rejected by the then Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani on 28 March 2005. He did not explain why. S. Ulph in ‘Terrorism Focus’, Jamestown Volume 2, Issue 7, 31/3/05.
- His rejection of a link with al-Qaida may have followed from a denial by an un-named al-Qaida spokesman reported in the Arabic newspaper Elaph on 20 March 2005. The spokesman stated that Qatar was not on a list of al-Qaeda targets and that the attack was made by a lone individual acting on his own account.
- The spokesman continued that bin Laden had not authorised the attack, and that he had called a meeting of the al-Qaida leadership to condemn the attack. The reason for bin Laden’s friendliness towards Qatar was explained by the role Al-Jazeera had played in calling for the release of Tayseer Alouni, a leading member in Spain.
- The report continued with an affirmation that al-Qaida would continue to observe an agreement with Qatar not to undertake any attacks on Americans inside Qatari territory. The Qatari foreign minister is also reported to have been enraged by the “act of unpardonable treachery by bin Laden”.
- These reports were followed by attempts to “explain” the peculiar agreement between Qatar & al-Qaida in the Western media. Official Qatari sources claimed the state was paying protection money to al-Qaida. The money is reported to be funnelled via spiritual leaders sympathetic to al-Qaida & is thought to fund its terrorist activities in Iraq. It is claimed the agreement only dates back to 2003, just before Qatar played an important role in the US invasion of Iraq. The agreement is reported to have been renewed following the Doha car bomb attack in March 2005. The report also observes that Qatar has “offered a haven for a number of extremists”, citing the example of Kifah Jayyousi. “Qatar buys off Al-Qaeda attacks with oil millions” by U. Mahnaimi, Sunday Times, 1/5/05.
- In addition Qatar has also hosted a number of politically active muslim militant leaders, for example leading to an assassination by Russian agents in Doha of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, a former Chechen president and rebel leader.
- For some years many of Usama bin Laden’s and Zawahiri’s audio & video messages have been exclusively provided for broadcast to the Qatari TV station Al-Jazeera. This suggests the Al-Qaida leaders had safe lines of communication with Al-Jazeera.