Pictures of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his nephew posing for Red Cross delegates this summer at Guantanamo turned up on the Web Wednesday, offering a rare glimpse into life inside the prison's secret Camp 7 just days ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The photo of Mohammed, on his knees as if preparing for prayer but staring straight into the camera, is the first public picture of the alleged arch-terrorist since his widely circulated capture photo — showing him pulled from his bed in a torn T-shirt, with messy hair and in need of a shave. Pakistani security forces in Rawalpindi took that image at his March 2003 arrest and then turned him over to the CIA for interrogations that reportedly included 183 episodes of waterboarding to get him to spill al Qaeda secrets.
In the latest photo, Mohammed, 44, looks fit, with a massive, bushy, gray-speckled beard covering the chest of his white detention center uniform. He is kneeling on a typical Guantánamo-issue prayer mat, clutching prayer beads in his right hand. His head is covered with a red-checked turban and he has fashioned a bed sheet into a prayer cloak.
Pentagon officials at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba have flatly forbidden media access to the camp for former CIA captives and have likewise only permitted an approved court sketch artist to draw Mohammed and his four fellow accused 9/11 plotters during military commissions proceedings at their complex conspiracy, death-penalty case.
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The pictures were taken in July, said International Committee of the Red Cross spokesman Bernard Barrett, under an agreement with prison camp staff that lets Red Cross delegates photograph detainees and send photos to family members.
In all, 107 Guantanamo detainees have agreed to be photographed at the prison camps, which today houses about 225 foreign men as war on terror captives.
The latest photos first showed up on Arabic language websites seen as sympathetic to al Qaida last week, according to counter-terror expert Jarret Brachman, who posted them on the "Jihadi personalities'' portion of his blog, http://jarretbrachman.net/, late Tuesday. He credited a fellow counter-terror cyber sleuth with the discovery.
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