Most stories on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed have focused on how he allegedly orchestrated 9/11 and a variety or other terrorist attacks, the uproar over where he might be tried, and claims that he was waterboarded more than 180 times. Now, in a stunning exclusive, the Associated Press lets us peek into the private life of Guantánamo Bay’s most famous resident. Apparently, while confined in a secret CIA prison in Romania about a decade ago, Mohammed, who has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, was allowed to pursue his dream of redesigning the vacuum cleaner, like an evil James Dyson.
After years of undergoing the worst of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques, the agency had no plan for Mohammed, but decided it was best to keep him sane. Thus, they started trying to find ways to keep him entertained. Per the AP:
The prison had a debriefing room, where Mohammed, who saw himself as something of a professor, held “office hours,” as he told CIA officers. While chained to the floor, Mohammed would lecture the CIA officers on his path to jihad, his childhood and family. Tea and cookies were served.
Along with the other five detainees at the prison in Bucharest, Mohammed was given assignments about his knowledge of al-Qaida, or “homework,” as CIA officers called it. He was given Snickers candy bars as rewards for his studiousness.
The prison’s recreation program also including giving the detainees reading material, and former officials say he was a fan of the Harry Potter series.
It’s possible that KSM wasn’t swept away by J.K. Rowling’s tale of wizardry and the importance of friendship. CIA officers checked every page of the prisoners’ books once they finished with them, and once they found a message from Mohammed warning fellow detainees not to talk about Osama bin Laden’s courier. It’s possible that his rebooted vaccum was some kind of ruse as well, but the CIA won’t share his vacuum blueprints, or even confirm that they exist.
Mohammed’s military lawyer, Jason Wright, said he’s “exceptionally intelligent” and lamented that he isn’t being given the tools to develop his mind. “If he had access to educational programs in Guantanamo Bay, such as distance learning programs, I am confident that in addition to furthering his Islamic studies, he could obtain a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and very likely patent inventions,” Wright said. Or he might just plot more atrocities — it’s hard to say.