Yosri Fouda, an important Al Jazeera journalist who interviewed both Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, has written a very interesting note today in The Sunday Times of London on what may be driving KSM’s extraordinary admissions during secret hearings at Guantanamo Bay.
The entire piece is very insightful, but here is the last extensive section:
I have no doubt that he would have liked to have been responsible for all the claims on the transcript, but was he? One thing that is missing, which I’m sure he was responsible for, is the Djerba operation in Tunisia: a tanker drove into a synagogue there in 2002, killing 21 people, after KSM gave the perpetrator his approval. That kind of “responsibility” is not uncommon. Maybe he forgot that one.
So he seems to be taking responsibility for some outrages he might not have perpetrated, while keeping quiet about ones that suggest his hand. I think he has blurred the line between what he did and what he was hoping or plotting to do.
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 knows that the smallest count against him will be enough to have him executed. Hardly anyone, even in Al-Qaeda, will believe he was responsible for all these operations. But he’s hoping they’ll think he has been selfless.
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.”
It would be interesting to know what this 9/11 plotter thinks about the success of his operation and of the distraction of America away from his al Qaeda overlords into the swamp of Iraq.
— Steve Clemons