KSM May Never Be Brought to Justice for the Murder of Daniel Pearl
I'm currently reading The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind by Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer (Little, Brown, 2012) Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. For further background on KSM -- while it borders on the overly familiar, the abbreviation is convenient -- I'm also reading "The Truth Left Behind: Inside the Kidnapping and Murder of Daniel Pearl," a report issued in 2011 by the Pearl Project.
One way to interpret KSM's hands-on murder of Daniel Pearl is that fresh from "masterminding" 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's blood lust remained unsated. He still sought to kill an infidel hands-on, and up close and personal. McDermott and Meyer report:
"Whoever did this was a professional," [FBI Special Agent Ty Fairman] said in describing Pearl's slaying to other Americans working the case. "He was slaughtered like an animal."
Bear in mind that KSM was the product of Pakistan's middle class (Baloch, to be exact), not some Yemeni shepherd accustomed to slaughtering sheep. Though he may have had undocumented experience butchering animals, it's impossible not to wonder how many humans he may have beheaded prior to Daniel Pearl.
Members of al Qaeda have been heard to claim that they kill thusly to instill fear in the hearts of infidels. Execution or even cutting someone's throat might be understandable by that logic. But once you reduce yourself to beheading and holding up the head for the camera, you're entering the realm of necrophilia.
While KSM is one creepy dude, what the death and destruction that the United States has unleashed in Afghanistan and Iraq dwarfs what he did. Furthermore, the United States has sabotaged its own case against KSM. The Pearl Project report describes the day in 2003 when then National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice called Daniel Pearl's widow, Mariane, and informed her that KSM was the killer.
Rice didn't let on to what was then one of the Bush administration's most closely-held secrets -- that KSM was being held in a secret CIA prison and had been subjected to waterboarding and other hard-core interrogation techniques. Those facts would turn out to have major consequences. They both raised questions about the reliability of KSM's confession and created a major obstacle to ever trying him in a U.S. criminal court for Pearl's murder.
The next pre-trial hearing for KSM's war crime trial in Guantanamo is scheduled for August. As the case proceeds, we'll find out if incarceration there and torture prove to be obstacles to finding him guilty of the current charges.