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Friday, March 16, 2007

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claims Pearl execution in revised Gitmo transcript
Michael Sung at 9:53 AM ET

[JURIST] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile] testified Saturday at a military status hearing at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] that he personally "decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in Karachi," according to a statement initially withheld from Wednesday's release [JURIST report] of the hearing transcript [text, PDF] to allow the notification of Pearl's family. The statement, which was read by a representative, described the 2002 kidnapping and subsequent beheading of Daniel Pearl [JURIST news archive] as an operation conducted with the Pakistan Mujahadeen group, unaffiliated with al-Qaeda [JURIST news archive]. Mohammed claims that Pearl had been working for the Israeli Mossad [official website] and maintained a relationship with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official websites]. Former colleagues and government officials have denounced the claims as baseless. Mohammed's statement, which he "admits and affirms without duress," also claims that he was responsible for 30 other proposed and executed terrorist operations spanning over a decade. Several US officials told AP that while there is much truth in Mohammed's statement, that was also a great deal of exaggeration and self-promotion.

The admissions came during Mohammed's first military hearing [JURIST report] before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) [DOD backgrounder] since he was transferred last September from a secret CIA prison overseas [JURIST report] into military custody at Guantanamo Bay. Hearings on whether Mohammed and 13 other top terror suspects [DNI profile, PDF] qualify as "enemy combatants" [CFR backgrounder, JURIST news archive] began last Friday. AP has more. AP has additional coverage.

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