Pentagon releases audio of Sept 11 mastermind

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Washington, Sep 13: The Pentagon today released an audio recording of a hearing for al Qaeda suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at Guantanamo Bay but cut some remarks made by the self-declared mastermind of the September 11 attacks.

The Pentagon said it had decided not to release some of Mohammed's comments from the March 10 hearing because they could be used by enemies of the United States to ''recruit or encourage future terrorists or terrorist activities.'' ''This could ultimately endanger the lives and physical safety of American citizens and those of our allies,'' Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

He said the passage that had been edited out was about 10 minutes of the hearing, which lasted roughly 40 minutes.

The closed hearing before a panel of military officials at the US military prison camp on Cuba for those deemed terrorist suspects was held to determine whether Pakistani national Mohammed could be classified as an enemy combatant.

At the hearing, Mohammed said he had organized the September 11 attacks and had killed US journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. He also claimed involvement in dozens of other plots.

The Defense Department released a written transcript of the hearing in March, with some elements removed for what US officials said were security reasons.

The Pentagon has made a practice of releasing transcripts and audio files of hearings for detainees such as Mohammed who were previously held in CIA-run secret prisons.

According to the transcript, the passage removed from the audio recording included Mohammed saying he was not happy that 3,000 people had been killed in America - presumably in the Sept. 11 attacks - but suggesting they were casualties of war.

''I mean the language of war is victims,'' he said, according to the transcript.


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