Mastermind of USS Cole bombing 'fesses up at Gitmo

Another day, another unusually comprehensive jihadi mea culpa.

During the enemy combatant tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, the tribunal president asked Attash what his role was in the Cole bombing.

“Many roles,” he said, according to a transcript of the tribunal proceeding released by the Pentagon. “I participated in the buying or purchasing of the explosives. I put together the plan for the operation a year and a half prior to the operation, buying the boat and recruiting the members that did the operation.”…

Attash also confessed to playing a key role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, saying he was the link between bin Laden and his deputy Abu Hafs al Masri and the cell chief in Nairobi.

He might be following KSM’s lead by copping to everything to proect people who are still at large, but there’s no doubt he was a key player. In fact, the only reason I’m blogging this given how many other righty bloggers have already gotten to it is to emphasize just how big a fish this guy is. He was ID’d as the brains behind the Cole bombing before 9/11; Bush claimed after his capture in 2003 that he was right below KSM in the Al Qaeda hierarchy. After reading his page at Cooperative Research, I don’t doubt it. He was pals with Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid Almidhar, both of whom ended up as muscle hijackers aboard Flight 77. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Attash originally planned to be one of the hijackers himself. The three of them attended the terror summit in Malaysia in early 2000 with KSM, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Hambali, where logistics for the Cole bombing and 9/11 were discussed. The CIA knew he was there, too, and knew what an evil filthbag he was. And yet:

The same supervisor of the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center (CTC) who expressed interest two months earlier in surveillance photos from the al-Qaeda Malaysia meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) now finds a cable he had been looking for regarding that same meeting. The cable, from January 2001, discusses al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash’s presence at the meeting. The supervisor explains later that bin Attash’s presence at the meeting had been troubling him. He writes an e-mail to the CTC, stating, “[Bin Attash] is a major league killer, who orchestrated the Cole attack (see October 12, 2000) and possibly the Africa bombings (see August 7, 1998).” Yet bin Attash is still not put on a terrorist watch list.

Al-Hazmi and Almidhar weren’t put on the list either until August 2001. Too late.

Update: He was also pals with Osama himself, claiming to have been with him on the day the Cole was attacked and at Tora Bora before the Air Force came calling.