One feeling I have always had from reading KSM’s confessions, or rather the information that has slipped through to the media from them, is not only that he was lying, but that he was lying in specific ways. First, he seems to me to have been lying for the usual reason of telling his torturers what he thought they wanted to hear to get them to stop torturing him. Second, he seems to have been lying for the specific purpose of benefiting his associates.
I was re-reading a bit of the 9/11 Commission report the other day and this passage leapt out at me:
Yousef managed to escape to Pakistan, but his accomplice, Murad — whom KSM claims to have sent to Yousef with $3,000 to help fund the operation — was arrested and disclosed details of the plot while under interrogation. Contrary to Murad’s confession, in which he described his intended role as one of the five operatives who would plant bombs on board the targeted aircraft, KSM has said that Murad’s role was limited to carrying the $3,000 from Dubai to Manila. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Feb. 19, 2004; (two reports); Feb. 24, 2004; Apr. 2, 2004. This aspect of KSM’s account is not credible, as it conflicts not just with Murad’s confession but also with physical evidence tying Murad to the very core of the plot, and with KSM’s own statements elsewhere that Murad was involved in planning and executing the operation. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Aug. 18, 2003; Jan. 9, 2004; Feb. 24, 2004.
Although Murad’s confessions may not be 100% reliable because he was tortured, there is plenty of evidence linking him to the plot and he was convicted of it along with Yousef in 1996.
Two points need to be made here. First, evidence gained using torture is unreliable–and remember by this point KSM had been in custody for nearly a year and had been waterboarded, etc. I don’t know how many times. Second, you have to wonder how crap like this could get into reports. Should the interrogators not be experts on things like KSM and his career and be able to spot this a mile off? You know, KSM comes out with a whopper, the interrogator reels off 10 reasons why what he just said is a whopper, then KSM takes it back.
KSM’s statement is clearly exculpatory for Murad, and may well have been made with the intention of benefitting an attempt to get him out of jail, an issue discussed by terrorism analyst J. M. Berger when the 9/11 Commission report was released.
My hunch is that KSM was doing this on a fairly regular basis for just about everyone he ever met. If I find any more clearcut instances of this, I will try to post them here.