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Self-professed Sept. 11 mastermind Mohammed airs his views at Gitmo hearing

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, is pictured before judge Army Col. James Pohl on the third day of pre-trial hearings in the 9/11 war crimes prosecution at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Wednesday.

The judge in overseeing proceedings against the five men who allegedly orchestrated the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks allowed what he said was a one-time only opportunity for the key defendant, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to air his views on Wednesday.

In the divergence from ongoing pre-trial proceedings aimed at laying the ground rules for a trial at a U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba came in the third of five scheduled days of hearings.


A transcript of Mohammed’s remarks, translated from Arabic, offer a window into the thinking of the 47-year-old Kuwaiti-born militant, who has been detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since 2006. Before that he was detained in secret CIA facilities and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, including dozens of sessions of "waterboarding":

Yes. In the name of God, most graceful, the government at the end of the argument gave you an advice. They told you any decision you're going to issue you have to keep in mind the national security and to remember that there were 3,000 people killed on September 11. And I would like to give you a similar advice.

Any decision you will take, you have to keep in mind that the government, that the government is using the definition of national security as it chooses. And this expression has a definition in the Military Commission's Rules.

We have heard the expression of national security again yesterday and today about tens of times. And everyone use this expression as he or she chooses. But legislators and legal people who deal in the legal field, they have to differentiate between the politicians' use of this word and the legal people's use of this word.

When the government feels sad for the death or killing of 3,000 people who were killed on September 11, we also should feel sorry that the American government, who is represented by General Martins and others, (has) killed thousands of people—millions.

This definition is a resilient definition, lasting. Every dictator can put on this definition as they choose, as he chooses to step on every definition in this world, every person, and every law and every constitution.

With this definitions, many can evade the rule and also can go against it. Many can kill people under the name of national security and to torture people under the name of national security and to detain children under the name of national security, underage children.

I don't want to be long, but I can say that the president can take someone and throw him in the sea under the name of national security. And so—well, he can also legislate the killings, assassinations under the name of national security, (of) American citizens.

My only advice to you, that you do not get affected by the crocodile tears. Because your blood is not made of gold and ours is made out of water. We are all human beings. Thank you.

 

The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, did not interrupt the speech, but made it clear that the speech was a one-time opportunity in the proceedings.

"Okay," said Pohl, addressing civil defense attorney David Nevin. "Just I think we need to make something clear here, is that I didn't interrupt Mr. Mohammed. He requested to make a statement to the court. But this is a one-time occurrence. If accused wish to represent themselves as attorneys, that's one issue. But no matter how heart-felt, I'm not going to again entertain personal comments of any accused about the way things are going. Do you understand what I'm saying, Mr. Nevin?"

"I understand," Nevin responded.

"I'm not pointing a finger," Pohl continued. "I want to make it very clear, I didn't interrupt him on this, but it is clear this was his personal statement of what he thought. Although he has the right to have that opinion he does not have the right to voice that opinion or any accused to stop the proceedings to give his personal observations and comments. I just want to make it clear the fact that I did not interrupt and let him finish should not be interpreted that this is an acceptable procedure of this Commission.

Mohammed and his accused co-conspirators are accused of terrorism and murder in the attacks, which killed 2,976 people. Mohammed has previously said that he was behind Sept. 11 and other terror attacks, and personally beheaded American journalist Daniel Pearl in February 2002 after the reporter was abducted in Pakistan.

The court's hearing on arguments on some two dozen motions, mainly involving secrecy and prisoner's rights, continued Thursday and were scheduled to run through Friday.

NBC News' Courtney Kube and Kari Huus contributed to this report.

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