The efficacy and ethics of torture, CIA black sites, and the legal status of enemy combatants are controversial issues that surround the trial. It’s possible the revelations from the hearings will change the way the US handles terror suspects in the future.
At this watershed moment for America’s post-9/11 legacy, here’s a timeline of KSM’s life.
April 14, 1965: KSM born in Kuwaiti City, Kuwait, according to information provided to the Red Cross. March 1, 1964, is another possible birthday.
1969: KSM’s father dies. His three brothers assume responsibility for his education. He attends the Fahaheel Secondary School with Ramzi Yousef, who in 1993 will bomb the World Trade centre.
1979: Ayatollah Khomeini overthrows the Shah of Iran. The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. These two events would dramatically change the Mulsim world and spur the rise Islamic militant groups.
1981: KSM joins Muslim Brotherhood, following his older brother Zahed, who had become student leader for the Brotherhood at Kuwait University. KSM attends training camps and studies the anti-Western, anti-modernity teachings of Islamist theorist Sayyid Qutb.
1984: Chosen by his older brothers, KSM is sent to Chowan College in Murfreesboro, North Carolina. It is likely he was harassed and bullied by American students. KSM transfers to North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro to study mechanical engineering.
1986: Graduates with an engineering degree and returns to Kuwait. His former high school teacher, Sheikh Ahmed Dabbous, would later tell New Yorker journalist Terry McDermott that KSM returned home radically changed, harboring a stalwart belief that Americans were depraved bigots who hated Islam.
1987: Travels to Peshawar, Pakistan to join his brothers Aref and Abed. Joins a small cohort of militant Muslims, which includes Abdullah Azzam, the first leader of Al Qaeda and mentor to Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of Al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden.
1988-1989: Soviet Union withdraws troops from Afghanistan.
1991: Trains at Khalden, one of hundreds of military camps in Afghanistan affiliated with Al Qaeda. He teaches bomb making.
1991: Teaches bomb making to Philippine Islamic militant groups, Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
1992-1995: Fights with mujahedeen in Bosnia and travels to South America, Africa, and Asia, fundraising and developing new terrorist cells.
1993: KSM and his nephew Ramzi Yousef fail to assassinate Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Feb. 23, 1993: New York City World Trade centre bombing. Six killed, thousands injured.
Jan. 6, 1995: Philippine investigators foil plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II and uncover Operation Bojinka, a plan to bomb a dozen passenger aeroplanes.
Jan. 20, 1995: Investigators learn of Operation Bojinka’s second wave, a plot to crash passenger aeroplanes into American buildings, including the White House, Pentagon, and World Trade centre. Most of its planners are captured.
1992-1996: Though often travelling, KSM lives in Qatar and enjoys the protection of influential politicians, including Interior Minister, and member of the royal family, Abdallah Khalid bin al-Thani.
1996: KSM develops plan to hijack and crash an aeroplane into CIA headquarters.
Aug. 7, 1998: Involved in planning the 1998 US Embassy suicide bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.
Oct. 12, 2000: KSM helps organise attack in Yemen’s port of Aden. Suicide bombers ram a small boat containing explosives into the Navy Destroyer USS Cole. KSM is now considered a top organiser and leader of Al Qaeda.
Sept. 11, 2001: Nineteen hijackers seize control of four commercial aeroplanes and crash them into New York City’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people are killed. KSM is later revealed to be the mastermind behind 9/11, which he refers to as “holy Tuesday.”
Oct. 12, 2002: Involved in the Bali Nightclub Bombings, killing 202 people.
Feb. 1, 2002: KSM decapitates Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. To a military tribunal in 2007 he confessed, “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the internet holding his head.”
March 1, 2003 – 2012: KSM is captured in Pakistan and extradited to the US. He is designated an enemy combatant, held in secret CIA prisons, and waterboarded 183 times.
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