If you want to know why the United States military finally hunted down and killed Osama bin Laden, you must read Richard Miniter’s book “Mastermind: The Many Faces of the 9/11 Architect, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.”
Miniter, a well-known expert on terrorism and best-selling author, undertook a painstaking search to research and understand Kahlid Shaikh Mohammed back to his student days in North Carolina, through the advancement of his career through planning the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the Sept. 11 attacks, and his central role in the kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
KSM, as he is widely know in intelligence circles, has been at the center of every major al-Qaida attack for the last 15 years, up until his capture in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on March 1, 2003.
Miniter stresses the complexity of the terror mastermind, noting, “KSM likes to present himself as a strictly observant Muslim, but he picks and chooses which Islamic laws to follow.”
In college in North Carolina, KSM would go to Burger King and order hamburgers without meat, telling his classmates he was not sure the beef would meet Islamic standards of purity, yet in the Philippines, Miniter pointed out, KSM plotted terror attacks while sipping tropical cocktails beneath brass poles of swinging teenage strippers, against a background of pounding rock music.
Now in captivity in Guantanamo Bay, KSM remains a major policy dilemma to the Obama administration in that aggressive interrogation methods, including waterboarding, have yielded lifesaving intelligence that helped law enforcement authorities prevent terror attacks in the United States and worldwide. Waterboarding alerted authorities, Miniter reveals, to some of KSM’s plans, including plots to blow up the Empire State Building, the Seattle Space Needle, the Panama Canal and World Cup soccer stadiums.
Miniter also exposes for the first time outside intelligence circles two previously unknown plots to kill Pope John Paul II, one in the Philippines in 1995 and another in Africa in 1998.
Based on interrogating KSM, intelligence agents were able to disrupt terror cells and make arrests on three continents – including in the United States itself.
Miniter reveals that waterboarding is not torture and that more than 10,000 American servicemen had undergone the procedure in the past four decades – without any lasting or harmful effects.
Growing public opposition to a public trial, which give KSM an international stage on which to propound his radical ideology to a world audience, eventually forced the Obama administration in April 2011 to return KSM’s case back to a military commission, despite Attorney General Eric Holder’s repeatedly expressed desire to give terrorists like KSM access to civilian courts with the full legal protections given to U.S. citizens.
Still, KSM was a highly effective terror operative, remaining mysterious even to his coconspirators.
Many of his comrades in terror never knew his real name. He used more than two dozen aliases. “He behaves like an intelligence officer,” said Col. Rodolfo Mendoza, who ran the intelligence section of the Philippines National Police while KSM was there. “He appears and disappears. He is very clever.”
Miniter set out to ask three questions:
- What made KSM into an eager planner of mass murder?
- What does KSM’s dogged rise inside the al-Qaida terror network tell us about the internal workings of the organization?
- What do we learn about the tradeoff between “humane treatment” of enemy combatants and the need to gather information that might save innocent lives?
To answer these questions, Miniter interviewed current and former intelligence officers, terror analysts in the United States, Europe and the Arab world, and eyewitnesses who knew KSM firsthand, all in the effort to take the reader “inside al-Qaida’s inner circle and into the mind of the man who planned and supervised the deadliest terror attack in world history.”
For the first time, Miniter shows that KSM was part of the Muslim Brotherhood – attending its weapons-training camps in Kuwait in 1981 and joining its propaganda arm in 1982. This is same group that is set to control Egypt and aims to destroy Israel, America and establish a global Islamic rule.
Why did KSM personally kill Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl?
Part of the reason was KSM’s nickname inside al-Qaida, Miniter explains. KSM was mocked as “KFC” – because he ate buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken while holed up in Pakistan after the Sept. 11 attacks.
KSM bought Pearl from his original captors and executed him on videotape in order to prove that, though he may have grown fat on fried chicken, he could still kill.
Miniter has the full, unbelievable story, including the domestic politics that complicate the effort to pursue terrorists as enemy combatants.
“Mastermind” shows that Clinton’s attorney general, Janet Reno, and the ACLU raised $8.5 million to defend KSM in America’s courts – even though the confessed terrorist already had taxpayer-funded military lawyers.
By stopping the military trials days after he was sworn in as president in January 2009, Obama saved KSM’s life for several years.
Now that military trials have resumed; the process of bringing KSM to justice has to start all over again, from scratch.
A judge and jury of military officers have yet to be assigned, and KSM has yet to hear the new charges against him and make his plea.
“Obama administration officials contrived to keep KSM alive – and lied to the families of the 9/11 victims,” Miniter writes.
There is every indication that KSM will still be on trial as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is commemorated across America.
As the trial unfolds in the coming months, “Mastermind” will be essential reading for decoding the spin of the so-called mainstream media.