High-value Guantanamo detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (“KSM”) has released a 36-page ‘nonviolence’ manifesto, filled with deeply extremist religious ramblings and advocating that Muslims should avoid using violence to spread Islam. What KSM fails to realize however, is that, while what he likely means is avoiding force, his hate-filled, extremist rant is nonetheless promoting violence, hate, and intolerance.
This appears to be a sharp departure from the KSM the world has come to know since he arrived at GTMO after being captured in Pakistan in 2003. KSM has confessed to his role as the alleged mastermind behind the September 11th attacks, as well as numerous other high-profile acts of terrorism, and is allegedly a member of al-Qaeda (Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization). As most of our readers are already aware, al-Qaeda is anything BUT a nonviolent organization. Known as a militant Islamic organization linked with high-profile suicide attacks, al-Qaeda essentially represents the antithesis of the values KSM is preaching in his recent manifesto.
In reality, however, the manifesto does little to change the public’s perception of KSM. Regardless of his departure from promoting the use of force to advance his beliefs, he still presents himself as a fanatical extremist with an intense hatred of the United States/western culture.
The manifesto begins with a rambling, difficult to understand introduction, explaining how peoples’ understanding of political events and wars are influenced by their perception, perspective, and experiences; the media is not free, and how the U.S. government is not the democracy it claims to be, and that what truly rules our western government is intelligence. He says that:
“Every democratic country in the west has a constitution, an executive branch, a judicial branch, and a legislative branch. They also have a big black box above and beyond these branches that implements all that it sees as being in the interest of the country or ruling party without consideration for any constitution, morality, religion, or principle. This black box is called intelligence, and its authority supersedes all other considerations.”
He then outlines the three parts of his manifesto:
1) An Invitation to Happiness: Claiming to invite everyone involved in the U.S. government, GTMO, and his trial to find happiness, this part of the manifesto outlines KSM’s religious beliefs, arguing that finding “Allah” is the path westerners need to pursue to find happiness, and cure problems like homelessness, poverty, suicide, etc.
2) In part 2 of his manifesto, KSM discusses why Osama bin Laden carried out the 9/11 attacks, and analyzes “whether it was a terrorist operation or an act of self-defense sanctioned by every constitution and international laws as the right of everyone whose land is occupied and whose people are attacked.”
3) Part 3 of the manifesto addresses “the truth about the so-called ‘War on Terror’.” KSM says, “For whose benefits or interests were these wars fought? Did these wars take place to defend the American people and their interests? Were they fought to defend freedom and human rights? Women’s rights? Or were they fought for the benefits and interests of individuals and corporations? Who are those individuals and corporations? What are their interests and benefits? Isn’t it true that they work for the weapons industry lobbies, security contractors or Halliburton sister companies, etc.?”
Interestingly, he never seems to get to Parts 2 and 3 of the manifesto (a point none of the news organizations analyzing the document have pointed out). The entire document is a rambling self-analysis of his religious beliefs, each seeming more extreme than the last. While he attacks Catholicism/Christianity, the United States, and other elements of traditional western culture throughout (making the fact that, while he may be advocating for nonviolence, the crux of his beliefs has not changed after over 10 years of detention at GTMO), he never truly addresses parts 2 and 3 of the outline (which many would argue would be far more interesting/valuable than learning about his religious beliefs).
In fact, it it slightly alarming that some (press, social media, etc.) are interpreting this manifesto as an indication that KSM has changed his philosophy and is now advocating for nonviolence. After carefully combing through the 36 page manifesto, I see nothing more than him continuing to use his religion (in fact, continuing to misinterpret his religion) as an excuse to promote hatred, intolerance, and violence. Only time will tell whether KSM will release an addendum to his manifesto, addressing parts 2 and 3 of his outline, but for now, it is certain that while he may appear to be a budding political theorist and ardent supporter of nonviolence, he is still the same fanatical extremist that was captured in Pakistan over a decade ago.
Kelly Ann Taddonio, Senior Research Fellow
Center for Policy & Research