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Vatican confirms al-Qaida man involved in Pope plot

The Vatican has confirmed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the second in command to Osama bin Laden, arrested in Pakistan last week, was the leader of a group of Islamic militants which plotted to kill Pope John Paul II on a visit to the Philippines.

The visit of the Holy Father in January 1995 went ahead with particularly tight security throughout.

Another member of the Islamic cell was Ramzi Yousef who is serving a life term in an American prison for his part in masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York, which killed six people and wounded 1000.

Mohammed has also been identified as the architect of another plot which was designed to crash an aircraft packed with explosives into the CIA headquarters in Virginia.

Washington branded Mohammed as one of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's most senior lieutenants and hold him responsible for the destruction of the September 11 attacks on New York's twin towers in 2001 which killed over 3000 people.

Irish Examiner

Terror suspect's Asia links (BBC 4/3/03)
Al Qaeda's Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in US custody (Reuters 3/3/03)

Pope to Visit Mongolia; Active Planning Underway (Catholic World News)

11 Mar 2003