But Mohammed, the supposed mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, says he killed Pearl anyway, according to military documents released by WikiLeaks on Monday and published by the Los Angeles Times, The Australian and other news organizations.
Mohammed told his interrogators that Sayf al-Adl, a former senior al-Qaida military commander, advised that "it would not be wise to murder Pearl" and said the reporter should "be returned back to one of the previous groups who held him, or freed," according to files published by the Los Angeles Times. But Sharif al-Masri, thought to be the group's chief financial operator, disagreed, and Mohammed told interrogators, "Pearl was taken to the house of [al-Qaida's] finance chief in Pakistan, Saud Memon, and murdered."
Mohammed has been waterboarded by his interrogators at least 183 times, but the confession echoed the conclusion found by the Pearl Project, a three-year-long investigation into the reporter's death released earlier this year by Georgetown University and the Center for Public Integrity. The investigation named Mohammed as one of 27 men involved in Pearl's death and said he was personally responsible for the reporter's beheading.
According to the documents, Mohammed, who was captured in March 2002, also described his disappointment with Richard Reid, the so-called "shoe-bomber" who attempted to blow up a plane from London bound for the United States in 2001.
Files published by The Australian show that Mohammed called Reid "irresponsible" for refusing to shave his beard before boarding the flight and attempting to detonate the explosive in his seat instead of in the airplane's bathroom as he had recommended. Mohammed also referred to the Sept. 11 attacks as his "dream and life's work," the documents reveal.
Obama administration officials said the latest leak could compromise the security of American citizens. "Both the previous and the current administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and diligence in transferring detainees from Guantanamo," read a statement to NPR and The New York Times from the Pentagon and State Department. "Both administrations have made the protection of American citizens the top priority, and we are concerned that the disclosure of these documents could be damaging to those efforts."
The statement also called the decision to publish information from the latest leaks "unfortunate" and said the agencies "strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information."