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Sept 11 "brain" linked to anti-Pope cell

The suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks now in US custody was part of a cell of Islamic militants accused of plotting to kill Pope John Paul in the Philippines in 1995, intelligence officials have said.

Officials in Manila described Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the architect of another plot designed to crash a plane packed with explosives into the headquarters of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Virginia.

That plot, dubbed Bojinka, also called for the blowing up of US passenger planes flying across the Pacific, they said.

"He was a part of the cell of Ramzi Yousef," one official said, referring to an Islamic militant whom Manila accuses of plotting to kill the Pope during his visit to the country in January 1995.

Yousef is now serving a life term in a US prison for masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York which killed six people and wounded 1000.

Washington branded Mohammed as one of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's most senior lieutenants and "the mastermind of the September 11 attacks" in 2001 on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon that killed about 3000 people.


Pakistan interrogates Al-Qaeda suspect (BBC)

3 Mar 2003