How the 9/11 mastermind found safe harbor in Qatar


In my opinion, Khalid Shaikh Mohammad (KSM), the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, used Qatar as a hub that launched a thousand terrors. It is from Doha that KSM worked and lived, planning and plotting future terrorist acts.

Qatar served as an important nexus for KSM. KSM travelled to the Philippines in 1994 to work on the Bojinka plot, a Manila-based plot to destroy twelve commercial airliners flying routes between the United States, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.

{mosads}In 1995, KSM worked as a humanitarian aid worker for Egyptian Relief, a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, and obtained Bosnian citizenship in November 1995. KSM was in Doha at least twice during 1995-1996. During his time in Doha, Qatari Minister of Religious Affairs Sheikh Abdullah al-Thani sheltered KSM. To be sure, KSM spent less than a year in Doha, but the effects are certainly evil and deadly.


There is more to the KSM saga in Qatar. By the time the Bojinka plot was discovered, KSM had returned to Qatar and his job as a project engineer at the country’s Ministry of Electricity and Water. He travelled in 1995 to extensively around the region to visit members of the worldwide jihadist community.

On his trip to Sudan, he attempted to meet with Osama Bin Laden, who was at the time living there, aided by Sudanese political leader Hassan al-Turabi. Thus, during the 1995-1996 period, KSM travelled extensively and used Doha as a hub during such travels.

KSM’s activity was not unknown to the Saudis or to the United States. Richard Clarke, the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism in the Clinton and Bush (43) administrations, wrote “It has been true that Qatar has served as a sanctuary for leaders of groups that the U.S. or other countries deem to be terrorist organizations. That, however, is nothing new. It has been going on for at least 20 years — and one of those who had sanctuary was the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks.”

Clarke describes Qatari intransigence to catch KSM. By 1996, because of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the aborted Bojinka plots, the US government considered KSM the most dangerous individual terrorist al large. Later that year, a federal criminal indictment for KSM was issued by US intelligence was trying to locate him as a matter of high priority.

Clarke states: “US intelligence found KSM in Qatar, working in the Water Department. The decision about what to do next came to an interagency committee I chaired, the Counter-terrorism Security Group (CSG). There was a consensus in the group that they could not trust the Qatar government sufficiently to do what otherwise would have been obvious: ask the local security service to arrest him and hand him over.

The Qataris had a history of terrorist sympathies and one cabinet member in particular, a member of the royal family, seemed to have ties to groups like al Qaeda and appeared to have sponsored KSM.”

Next, Clarke said: “We decided, therefore, to do an ‘extraordinary rendition,’ a snatch by a US team, followed immediately by an exfiltration to the US In those days, the targets of extraordinary renditions were given Miranda warnings, court-appointed lawyers and jury trials in civilian courts. The problem in this case was that no US agency thought it could successfully pull off such a snatch.”

After much debate, the U.S. approached the Emir to request an arrest of KSM but KSM had already but warned of a pending request for arrest and had left Doha for Afghanistan.

Clarke says: “Within hours of the US ambassador’s meeting with the Emir, KSM had gone to ground. In tiny Doha, no one was able to find him. Later, the Qataris told us that they believe he had left the country. They never told us how.”

My argument is clear: Up to 9/11, the most horrific terrorist attack on American soil was planned by KSM. Doha sheltered KSM in the wake of the abortive Bojinka Plot. I assert that Qatar sheltered KSM implicates the State of Qatar and those who supported, employed, and protected this future mass murderer must be brought to justice. It should be noted that KSM was seen as a Muslim Brother in the Balkans after the Bojinka Plot. Here I argue that the MB-Qatar-Al-Qaeda linkage is clear.

What KSM learned during his time on Doha paid off later. KSM went on to organize the 9/11 attacks, help coordinate the Bali bombing in Indonesia, the murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl, and other terrorist attacks. In 2003, he was apprehended in Pakistan by U.S. officials accompanied by Pakistani officers. He is today in Guantanamo, Cuba, in the U.S. military court system. Perhaps Qatar should be called in as a hostile witness.

Salman Al-Ansari is the founder and president of the Washington DC based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee SAPRAC.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.


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