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Senior Al Qaida Leader Admits Planning September 11th Attacks

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has apparently confessed to masterminding the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States during a military hearing at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Officials in Pakistan, where Mohammed was captured in 2003, say the confession is a step forward in the fight against the al Qaida terror network. From Islamabad, VOA Correspondent Benjamin Sand has more.

According to a transcript released by the Pentagon on Wednesday, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said he was responsible for the September 11, 2001, operation "from A to Z."

During a military hearing, the Pakistani national also confessed to planning a string of other attacks, including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, a nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia, and a failed attempt to bring down U.S. airplanes using shoe bombs.

In Pakistan, senior government officials say the confession is a significant achievement. Pakistan was instrumental in capturing Mohammed in 2003.

Pakistan military analyst and retired General Talat Masood says the news is evidence of Pakistan's cooperation in the U.S.-led war against terror.

"His confession would reinforce, it would remind the people of Pakistan's role in trying to capture these people," he said.

He says Mohammed's confession also helps lay out al Qaida's long history of terrorism and could help cool some of the widespread anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

The confession came in a statement he gave to a military hearing last Saturday at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The hearing was to determine whether Mohammed and several other prisoners meet U.S. authorities' definition of an enemy combatant, and can be kept in custody for another year

Mohammed is considered to have been the terrorist network's third in command, behind Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Both those men are at large and believed to be hiding inside Pakistan.

The Pentagon also released transcripts from military hearings of two other suspected terrorists with ties to the region.

Yemen-born Ramzi Binalshibh allegedly helped Mohammed plot the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Faraj al-Libi, from Libya, allegedly masterminded two attempts to kill Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in 2003.