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Homeland Security

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

9-11 Mastermind


Khalid Shaikh MohammedKhalid Shaikh MohammedKhalid Shaikh Mohammed

Location of DetentionU.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba1
Capturing AuthorityU.S. and Pakistani officers
Date of CaptureMarch 1, 2003
Location of CaptureRawalpindi, Pakistan
RoleOperations Chief
SupervisorOsama bin Laden
AffiliationProject Bojinka Cell
Affiliation9-11 plotters
AffiliationMuslim Brotherhood5
Full Given NameKhalid Shaikh Mohammed
Alias(es)Ashraf Refaat Nabith Henin3, Khalid Adbul Wadood3, Salem Ali2, Fahd Bin Adballah Bin Khalid3, Abdulrahman A.A. Alghamdi, Mukhtar the Baluchi, Hashim Abdulrahman, Hashim Ahmed, KSM1, Khalid al-Shaykh al-Ballushi6
Alternate Spelling(s)Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Khalid Shaikh Muhammed, Khalid Shaykh Mohammad, Khaled Shaikh Mohammad, Khalid Shaykh Muhammed
Date of BirthApril 14, 19653
Alternate Date of BirthMarch 1, 19643
Place of BirthKuwait3
DescriptionBlack hair; brown eyes; olive complexion.
HistoryVeteran of Afghanistan-Soviet civil war (1980-1989)5
Charged withConspiracy to kill U.S. nationals
Charging authorityUnited States
In connection withProject Bojinka
Case statusPending
Narrative and Notes
  • Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is al-Qaeda's most successful terrorist operator, having planned and executed the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
  • Raised in Kuwait to a family from the Baluchi region of Pakistan, Mohammed was cousin or uncle to Ramzi Yousef.
  • He said his willingness to attack the United States is a result of U.S. support of Israel.
  • He graduated from North Carolina A&T University with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1986, and afterwards went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets there.
  • He wired $660 to one of Yousef's co-conspirators in 1992 in support of the first World Trade Center bombing.
  • With Yousef, he took part in the aborted Project Bojinka and was indicted in the United States for his role, but he was not detained.
  • In 1996, he went to Osama bin Laden and proposed what would become the 9-11 plot. Bin Laden approved the plan in late 1998 or early 1999, and Mohammed was in the al-Qaeda fold. He also took over the network's media committee.
  • He was reportedly quite popular among al-Qaeda members, who described him as "an intelligent, efficient, and even-tempered manager who approached his projects with a single-minded dedication that he expected his colleagues to share."
  • During interrogations, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were more reserved in their praise, suggesting he was less creative or hands-on but served as more a synthesist of ideas from others.
  • The CIA had minimal information connecting him to al-Qaeda before 9-11, and he was generally regarded as a wanted but freelance terrorist before then. What information it did have was divided between a number of aliases that were not connected to him until July and August 2001.
  • After the attacks and death of al-Qaeda's military chief Mohammed Atef, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was regarded as the group's terrorist operations chief.
  • At the time of his capture in 2003, he was plotting attacks against the United States and United Kingdom.
  • He was one of 14 key al-Qaeda operatives and associates transferred from CIA custody to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2006.4,5
  • Members of the Qatari government may have disriputed efforts to capture him in 1996 by tipping him off to the U.S. indictment against him.
  • He claims to have joined the Muslim Brotherhood at age 16. He was radicalized at desert youth camps.5
    1 U.S. government shorthand.
    2 United States vs. Yousef et al. indictment.
    3 Rewards for Justice web site.
    4 'Detainee Biographies,' press release, Director of National Intelligence, Sept. 6, 2006.
    5 The 9-11 Commission Final Report. July 22, 2004. Chapter 5.1.
    6 The 9-11 Commission Final Report, July 22, 2004, Chapter 8.2.
    Photos (left to right): FBI; Obtained by author.; FBI
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    Page last modified: 02-11-2006 23:06:18 ZULU