9/11 plotter delivers scathing anti-US attack at Guantanamo hearing
Wearing a military-style vest, self-declared 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed delivered a scathing anti-American diatribe at a military tribunal in what the judge labelled a "one-time occurrence".
The US president "can legislate assassinations under the name of national security for American citizens," the Kuwaiti-born Pakistani said on Wednesday during the third day of a pre-trial hearing at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Mohammed was allowed to speak with a 40-second time delay that would have enabled his comments to be censored had he touched on sensitive issues. Shaikh Mohammed was detained in a secret CIA prison from 2002 to 2006, and the government has acknowledged that he was subjected to waterboarding 183 times.
"Every dictator can choose" his definition of national security, he said. "With this definition, many can invade the rule and go against it, many can kill people under the name of national security, many can torture people under the name of national security and detain children under the name of national security, under-aged children."
Mohammed spoke calmly in Arabic and waited until each of his sentences had been translated into English.
"The president can take someone and throw him under the sea under the name of national security," he said in an apparent reference to al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden killed by the US in Pakistan a year ago.
Mohammed, who was regarded as one of bin Laden's most trusted and intelligent lieutenants, concluded with "our blood is not made of water".
Following his diatribe, Judge James Pohl alerted him that he would not be allowed to speak again.
"I didn't interrupt you … this is a one-time occurrence," Pohl said. The hearings are in preparation for a 9/11 trial to be held at some point next year.
Mohammed is accused of orchestrating the hijacked airliner plot that left 2,976 people dead, while his alleged al-Qaeda accomplices are charged with providing funding and other support for those who crashed the planes.
All five face the death penalty if convicted.