Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a top leader of the al-Qaida terrorist network, was captured by Pakistani authorities on March 1st along with two other suspected al-Qaida terrorists. Mohammed is now in the hands of U.S. authorities.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was indicted by a U.S. court in 1996 for conspiring to bomb commercial airliners. He is linked to the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the U.S. that killed more than three-thousand people from more than ninety countries. He also is linked to other al-Qaida terrorist attacks, including the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were wounded in those bombings. White House press spokesman Ari Fleischer called him "a key al-Qaida planner and the mastermind of the September 11th attacks."
Few men know al-Qaida as well as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. He has played a key role in recruiting and training al-Qaida terrorists and planning al-Qaida attacks including the first World Trade Center bombing in New York in 1993. His nephew, Ramzi Yousef, was convicted for that bombing. Yousef was arrested in the Philippines for conspiring with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and others to blow up twelve U.S.-bound airliners in 1995.
According to a top German police official, the terrorist who bombed a synagogue in Tunisia in April 2002 telephoned Khalid Shaikh Mohammed three hours before the attack. Mohammed is reported to have personally murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002. Al-Qaida terrorists in U.S. custody have reportedly said that Mohammed was directing al-Qaida efforts to acquire a radiological weapon of mass destruction.
The capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is a severe blow to the al-Qaida network -- one of several blows it has taken in the past year. In April 2002, Pakistani authorities arrested and handed over to the U.S. Zayn al-Abidin Mohamed Husayn [zehn ahl-ah-bee-DEEN moh-hah-med hoo-sehn], known as Abu Zubaydah [ah-boo zoo-bye-dah]. He played a major role in organizing the September 11th terrorist attacks. The al-Qaida member who helped finance those attacks, Ramzi Binalshihb [rahm-zee bin-ahl-shib], was arrested in Pakistan in September 2002. During the past year, Pakistani authorities have arrested some five-hundred al-Qaida suspects.
The capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed should make it clear that the U.S. will continue to work with its allies until all al-Qaida terrorists have been brought to justice.