* Brief overview of the KSM indictment
For those who want a quick overview of the just-unsealed and just-dismissed KSM indictment:
The defendants in the case were KSM, Walid Bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa al-Hawasi. In late 2009, they were named in connection with the 9/11 attacks in the 14th Superseding Indictment in the case originally filed in 1993 in connection with the first World Trade Center plot. That is the document unsealed this morning, and dismissed today in favor of military commission proceedings. The following is a brief summary of the charges and allegations in the now-defunct indictment:
The indictment first mentions KSM, bin Attash, and al-Hawsawi earlier in connection with the general overview of AQ’s structure, stating that they participated in AQ’s “media committee.” The indictment turns to their direct involvement in the 9/11 plot on p.11. KSM is described as the “operational leader” of the plot. Bin Attash is participating in the plot by “collecting information on matters related to airport and airplane security measures.” Bin al-Shibh and Ali are described as facilitating the plot by sending money to the hijackers in the US. Al-Hawsawi is described as a plot facilitator for helping to arrange the hijackers travel to the US and other logistics.
The enumeration of overt acts begins on p. 14. Most if not all of it should be familiar in light of prior accounts such as that in the 9/11 Commission Report. Somewhat interesting additional details that I do not recall seeing before include:
· After the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden directed bin Attash to “travel to the Tora Bora region … and prepare the area by digging trenches and stockpiling food, weapons, and ammunition.” (para. 174).
· Bin Laden videotaped a message the day before the 9/11 attacks, referring to all 19 hijackers by name and by “kunya.” (para. 179)
· When KSM and al-Hawsawi were captured in March 2003, there were materials present “related to . . . the planning and execution of the September 11, 2001 attacks.” (para. 180)
Counts 1-9 were relatively conventional charges stemming directly from the 9/11 plot:
Count 1 – Conspiracy to Commit Acts of Terrorism Transcending National Boundaries (18 USC 2332b)
Count 2 – Acts of Terrorism Transcending National Boundaries (same)
Count 3 – Conspiracy to Commit Violent Acts and Destroy Aircraft (18 USC 32)
Count 4 – Violence on and Destruction of Aircraft (same)
Count 5 – Conspiracy to Commit Aircraft Piracy (49 USC 46502)
Count 6 – Aircraft Piracy (same)
Count 9 – Destruction of the Twin Towers (18 USC 844(i), and 18 USC 2)
Count 10 was different. Titled “Al Qaeda Conspiracy to Kill Americans,” count 10 asserted a violation of 18 USC 2332. In relevant part, § 2332 makes it a crime for persons outside the United States to conspire to kill US nationals. In contrast to the 9/11-focused charges in Counts 1-9, this charge explicitly focused on the proposition that al Qaeda can be conceived as an overarching conspiracy to kill Americans wherever Americans may be found. Consistent with that lens, Count 10 not only incorporated by reference all the prior allegations relating to the 9/11 plot, but also a handful of additional allegations not directly linked to 9/11, including:
· KSM in 1999 went with bin Laden to a Kabul-area terrorist training camp
· KSM in 2000 discussed potential American targets in Australia
· Bin Attash in 2001 served on bin Laden’s security detail
· KSM and Ali in late 2001 plotted to attack US-bound planes with shoe bombs
· Bin Attash while in Pakistan in April 2003 “possessed approximately 400 to 500 kilograms of explosives to be used to attack Americans”.
The indictment concluded with a series of “special findings” allegations required for seeking the death penalty, though only in relation to counts 1-9.