The Thriller of What Occurred to a 9/11 Suspect’s Sons

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The destiny of the sons of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the person accused of being the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults, has lengthy been a supply of thriller and controversy.

Two of the boys had been 8 and 10 after they had been captured by Pakistani authorities in 2002.

A psychologist who waterboarded Mr. Mohammed throughout interrogations in Poland has admitted that he threatened to slit the throat of one of many boys. Throughout one other interrogation, the prisoner has mentioned, he thought he heard his kids crying within the subsequent room.

However a prosecutor has now disclosed that the boys had been by no means in U.S. custody. Nor had been two youthful boys, believed to be 5 and 6, who had been current throughout a joint U.S.-Pakistani raid that captured Mr. Mohammed in 2003.

Nonetheless, “the kids could be an ever-present emotional bargaining chip within the interrogation and torture periods that adopted,” Mr. Mohammed’s army lawyer, Lt. William Xu, advised the choose in pretrial hearings at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Mr. Mohammed’s attorneys have been searching for a court docket order for extra details about what occurred to the boys. They argue it might bolster an effort to have the case dismissed for “outrageous authorities conduct” as a result of that was a part of his torture. If Mr. Mohammed is convicted, they’ve mentioned they could wish to current the story of what occurred to the boys to a army jury to argue that he needs to be spared capital punishment.

An earlier choose rejected the trouble as a “fruitless scavenger hunt,” in response to Capt. Tara J. Arndt, a case prosecutor.

However testimony has proven that C.I.A. brokers used threats to the boys as an interrogation instrument earlier than he was transferred to Guantánamo in 2006. The case has but to succeed in the trial section as protection attorneys search to suppress some proof that they are saying was derived from torture and floor different info of their efforts to defend him.

James E. Mitchell, the contract psychologist who labored for the C.I.A., testified in 2020 that he had consulted a lawyer for the company and obtained permission to threaten to kill considered one of Mr. Mohammed’s sons. Throughout that month, Mr. Mitchell waterboarded Mr. Mohammed 183 instances.

The lawyer mentioned the menace wouldn’t represent torture in the event that they had been conditional and didn’t recommend that the boys confronted “imminent hurt,” Mr. Mitchell testified. So he advised Mr. Mohammed that, if one other little one died in a terrorism assault in america, “then I’ll reduce your son’s throat.”

Trying again, it was “distasteful,” Dr. Mitchell testified. He added that eight kids died within the Sept. 11 assaults, which Mr. Mohammed is accused of orchestrating and killed about 3,000 folks.

In court docket final week, Frank Pellegrino, a retired F.B.I. agent who obtained a confession from Mr. Mohammed in 2007, mentioned the menace was “a horrible factor to say.” He later referred to as the C.I.A. program that imprisoned Mr. Mohammed a “flaming bag of crap.”

However he testified that Mr. Mohammed had voluntarily confessed to his position within the Sept. 11 plot throughout an interrogation at Guantánamo practically 4 years later.

The prisoner’s kids figured in that interrogation too. On the fourth and closing day of their conferences, Mr. Pellegrino mentioned, Mr. Mohammed requested for some household pictures that U.S. authorities had taken from him earlier than the interrogation. Mr. Pellegrino mentioned he organized for them to be returned.

Prosecutors offered the protection with every part they deemed related, plus materials that “exceeded the scope of the federal government’s obligations,” Captain Arndt mentioned.

The boys who had been captured in 2002 “had been by no means in United States custody and there aren’t any identified statements of these kids,” she advised Col. Matthew N. McCall, the fourth choose to preside within the long-running case. She mentioned the prosecution additionally decided that the youthful two boys “had been by no means taken into custody in any respect. There aren’t any information indicating that the kids had been mistreated in any method.”

Mr. Mohammed wouldn’t know what grew to become of the youthful kids till after he reached Guantánamo in 2006 and met with representatives of the Worldwide Committee of the Crimson Cross. By then, they had been believed to be residing with their mom in Iran, the place she moved along with her eight kids after her husband was captured.

In early 2007, Mr. Mohammed mentioned in conversations with the U.S. army and F.B.I. that the older boys had been held for 4 or 5 months. In one account, he described them “as bait” to get him to show himself in, which he didn’t do. They had been then dropped off at a mosque with a spiritual faculty.

Mr. Mohammed advised the F.B.I. brokers that his youthful sons had been taken into custody on the time of his 2003 arrest.

“From the very starting, these younger kids had been used towards Mr. Mohammad throughout questioning,” Lieutenant Xu mentioned. “He remembers being within the interrogation room and listening to his kids crying within the subsequent room and having the interrogator inform him that you simply, you possibly can cease what you’re listening to.”

Apparently he was advised at one level in his C.I.A. detention that the boys had been launched. Then after a seven-hour torture session, he was advised that his sons “had been detained once more,” in response to a C.I.A. report cited by Lieutenant Xu.

C.I.A. guards then shackled Mr. Mohammed in a standing place to deprive him of sleep, the report mentioned, whereas he struggled “to manage his feelings … probably with concern over his sons.”