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Authorities Interrogate Alleged Sept. 11 Mastermind

FBI photo of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
FBI photo of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

As the man accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon undergoes interrogation at an undisclosed location, some experts describe his capture as potentially crippling to the al Qaeda terrorist network's activities worldwide.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who authorities say is the highest-ranking member of al Qaeda to be taken into custody, was seized by Pakistani police early Saturday during a raid on a private home near Islamabad. As NPR's Mike Shuster reports, Mohammed may present an unparalleled opportunity to gain information about terrorist activities worldwide.

He was indicted in 1996 in a plot to seize and destroy a dozen U.S. airliners in Asia -- including the possibility of crashing a plane into CIA headquarters. But he was never located. Elements of that alleged mid-90s plan re-emerged in chilling detail on Sept. 11, 2001.

The capture gives U.S. officials a chance to interrogate a man who has been linked to many acts of terrorism in recent years, including a suspected plot to explode a radiological dirty bomb in the United States and the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says he believes Mohammed may know where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is hiding.

There's no word yet on whether anyone plans to claim a $25 million reward the United States had offered for Mohammed's capture.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mike Shuster
Mike Shuster is an award-winning diplomatic correspondent and roving foreign correspondent for NPR News. He is based at NPR West, in Culver City, CA. When not traveling outside the U.S., Shuster covers issues of nuclear non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and the Pacific Rim.

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