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Exclusive: Alleged mastermind tells Obama 9/11 was America's fault

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 8/02/2017 Carol Rosenberg

This undated photo downloaded from the Arabic language Internet site www.muslm.net and purporting to show a man identified by the Internet site as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sep. 11 attacks, is seen in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. © AP Photo/www.muslm.net This undated photo downloaded from the Arabic language Internet site www.muslm.net and purporting to show a man identified by the Internet site as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sep. 11 attacks, is seen in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. MIAMI — The alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks wrote former President Barack Obama in a long suppressed letter that America brought the 9/11 attacks on itself for years of foreign policy that killed innocent people across the world.

"It was not we who started the war against you in 9/11. It was you and your dictators in our land," Khalid Sheik Mohammed, 51, writes in the 18-page letter to Obama, whom he addressed as "the head of the snake" and president of "the country of oppression and tyranny." It is dated January 2015 but didn't reach the White House until a military judge ordered Guantanamo prison to deliver it days before Obama left office.

In it, the man on trial for his life at Guantanamo as the alleged architect of the hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field adds that he neither fears a death sentence nor life in a prison cell. He also appends a 50-page manuscript he wrote, "The Truth About Death," illustrated with a picture of a noose.

"I will be happy to be alone in my cell to worship Allah the rest of my life and repent to Him all my sins and misdeeds," he says in the letter that he wrote at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"And if your court sentences me to death, I will be even happier to meet Allah and the prophets and see my best friends whom you killed unjustly all around the world and to see sheik Osama bin Laden."

The Kuwait-born Pakistani citizen of Baluch ethnic background, lists a long litany of U.S. overseas interventions — from Iraq and Iran to Vietnam and Hiroshima — to justify the worst terror attack on U.S. soil.

But he is particularly focused on the cause of the Palestinians, highlights civilian suffering and accuses Obama of being beholden to special interests, notably Israel and "the occupier Jews." Israel gets 39 mentions while Osama bin Laden gets a dozen, including once to excoriate Obama for the mission that hunted down and killed the founder of the al-Qaida movement for the 9/11 attacks.

Mohammed ridicules Obama — "a smart attorney, well acquainted with human rights" — who "can kill his enemy without trial and throw his dead body into the sea instead of giving him to his family or respecting him enough as a human being to bury him."

The former al-Qaida operations chief wrote the letter "in the context of violence in Gaza and the occupied territories," said Mohammed's death-penalty defense attorney, David Nevin. He called it "the primary motive for the drafting of the letter" and declined to say whether the client or his legal staff typed it up.

Mohammed began drafting the letter during 2014 when Israel had an offensive in the Gaza Strip that claimed civilian lives, according to his military attorney, Marine Maj. Derek Poteet.

"He's upset at U.S. foreign policy and he plainly perceives that the United States has signed a blank check to Israel," Poteet said. In the opening paragraph Mohammed tells Obama: "Your hands are still wet with the blood of our brothers and sisters and children who were killed in Gaza."

Mohammed is one of five men in pretrial hearings at the Guantanamo war court that accuses them of engineering the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings, and seeks their execution if convicted. The man who was hidden for 3 1/2 years in the CIA's secret prison network, where he was waterboarded 183 times and subjected to other brutal interrogation techniques.

"I will never ask you, or your court for mercy," he writes. "Do what you wish to do, my freedom, my captivity and my death is a curse on all evil doers and tyrants."

Mohammad spent about three years in North Carolina in the 1980s. He attended Chowan College in Murfreesboro for one semester and then transferred to North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, where he earned an engineering degree in 1986.

Prison officials refused to deliver the letter, a position backed by prosecutors who said it should be suppressed as propaganda.

His Pentagon-paid defense attorneys asked the judge to intervene in September 2015, arguing Mohammed's First Amendment right to petition the president. The Army judge in charge of the trial, Col James L. Pohl, eventually ruled that the commander in chief could receive it, virtually as the Obamas were moving out of the White House — and the public could see it a month later, once President Donald J. Trump moved in.

"What's so troubling to me is it took so long to get approval, even to get this litigated," Nevin said, reminding that the defense team started out asking the military, "How do we provide this to the president of the United States?"

In the letter Mohammed also:

— Endorses Al-Jazeera. "Don't let Fox, CNN, BBC, or American and pro-Israeli channels cover your eyes ... Their main task is brainwashing. They are experts at lying and distorting the facts to achieve their masters' ends."

— Invokes "the blood of the innocents your drone attacks killed in Waziristan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere around the globe."

— Singles out "the CIA, the FBI, the Jewish community of Brooklyn, the merchants of AIPAC, the war profiteers, to pro-Israeli militias and the Christian-Zionist Lords" for condemnation, as well as "the Christian right wing and the followers of Jerry Falwall, Gary Bauer, Pat Robertson and John Hague."

— Says "Allah aided us in conducting 9/11, destroying the Capitalist economy, catching you with your pants down, and exposing all the hypocrisy of your long-held claim to democracy and freedom."

The theme is not new. In October 2012, when he was first allowed to wear a hunting vest to the war court he scolded the judge with this: "Your blood is not made of gold and ours is made out of water. We are all human beings."

The Herald obtained the document from Mohammed's lawyers after a judicially ordered 30-day review period expired. Pohl ruled on Jan. 6 that there was no "legal basis for continued sealing of the letter's contents" but gave the prison an extra month to scrub it of sensitive information before releasing it on the Pentagon war court website whose motto is "Fairness (ASTERISK) Transparency (ASTERISK) Justice."

A spokesman at the Pentagon could not explain why the document had not yet been posted on the website Wednesday.

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