WASHINGTON – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed proudly confessed to a U.S. military tribunal that he "decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl," more than five years after the American reporter's execution was shown in a video, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon.
The confession was one of many in a litany of terrorism-related crimes the Al Qaeda mastermind confessed to at a Guantanamo Bay hearing. The hearing transcript was released Wednesday by the Pentagon. The murder confession initially was redacted from the record pending notification of Pearl's family, but was released to the press Thursday.
• PHOTO ESSAY: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
"I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head," the transcript read.
Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who went to Pakistan in January 2002 to reportedly examine a connection between "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and Pakistani militants, disappeared Jan. 23 after arranging a meeting with "Chaudry Bashir," an alias for Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.
• Click here to see the Pentagon's transcript of the interview (pdf).
A video of his beheading was released after a month later, after pleas from the Wall Street Journal and his wife Mariane, who at the time was 7 months pregnant with their first child. Pearl's body was found in May in a shallow grave outside Karachi.
Mohammed portrayed himself as Al Qaeda's most ambitious operational planner in a confession to a U.S. military tribunal that said he planned and supported a series of terrorist attacks, ranging from the gruesome attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — which killed nearly 3,000 — to a 2002 shooting on an island off Kuwait that killed a U.S. Marine, according to an account released by the Pentagon.
He listed for the Guantanamo tribunal 28 attacks he claimed to have directly planned or carried out, and another three he supported, including trying to kill Pope John Paul II, President Clinton and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
He also said he planned the 2002 bombing of a Kenya beach resort frequented by Israelis, the failed missile attack on an Israeli passenger jet after it took off from Mombasa, Kenya, and the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia that killed more than 200.
Other plots he said he was responsible for included planned attacks against the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Empire State Building and New York Stock Exchange in New York City, the Panama Canal, and Big Ben and Heathrow Airport in London — none of which happened.