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Khalid mastermind { June 5 2002 }

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Kuwaiti Is Suspected As 9/11 Mastermind
U.S. Offers $25 Million for Capture

By John J. Lumpkin
Associated Press
Wednesday, June 5, 2002; Page A07

Investigators believe they have identified a Kuwaiti lieutenant of Osama bin Laden as the likely mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said yesterday.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, designated as one of the FBI's most-wanted terrorists, is at large in Afghanistan or nearby, the law enforcement official said.

"There's lots of links that tie him to 9/11," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He's the most significant operational player out there right now."

Other bin Laden lieutenants are also believed to have helped put together the attacks, the official said. But evidence is mounting that Mohammed was at the center of the operational planning.

A second U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that Mohammed played a critical role in planning the attacks but said questions remain about the extent of his leadership. The official said other bin Laden lieutenants, including Abu Zubaydah, now in U.S. custody, are also believed to have played top organizational roles.

According to the counterterrorism official, within three months of Sept. 11, the FBI learned that Mohammed had moved money that was used to pay for the attacks and that since then the United States has gathered other significant evidence pointing to him as the key planner. The official declined to go into detail, citing a need to protect intelligence information.

Mohammed is accused of working with Ramzi Yousef in the first bombing of the World Trade Center, which left six dead in 1993. He and Yousef are also accused of plotting in 1995, while hiding in the Philippines, to bomb several trans-Pacific airliners heading for the United States. Yousef, now serving a life sentence in the United States, is believed to have planned to crash a plane into CIA headquarters.

The State Department is offering a $25 million reward for information leading to Mohammed's capture. Officials said he continues to plot attacks against U.S. interests.

Mohammed was charged by federal prosecutors in New York in 1996 in connection with the alleged 1995 plot. The FBI describes him as in his mid-thirties, sometimes wearing a beard and glasses, and slightly overweight. His aliases include Ashraf Refaat Nabith Henin, Khalid Abdul Wadood, Salem Ali and Fahd Bin Abdallah Bin Khalid.

Mohammed has not been charged in connection with the attacks, in which hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, leaving more than 3,000 dead.

2002 The Washington Post Company

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