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What The Wire might tell us about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

What The Wire might tell us about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

I don’t know how many of you are die-hard fans of HBO’s popular television drama The Wire, but since joining FP in December I’ve become an addict. The Wire is a gritty, realism-drenched look at the interplay of drugs, crime, police, and politics in Baltimore, one of the most troubled cities in the United States.

Being a Wire freak, the first thing that popped into my head when I read Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s confession was: This guy is full of it.

Why? In Season One of The Wire, Roland “Wee-Bay” Brice, a top hitman for the Barksdale drug organization, gets fingered for shooting a police officer. He then cops to multiple murders, including several that he didn’t commit, in order to protect the gang.

Might Mohammed be doing the same thing? I don’t doubt that he was deeply involved in numerous al Qaeda operations, including 9/11, of course. The man is a mass murderer. But it’s deeply suspicious that he’s confessing to so many plots—at least 31. Today’s Times story offers the following tantalizing clue:

But Mr. Mohammed interrupted his representative to clarify that he was not solely responsible for a 1995 attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II during a visit to the Philippines.

“I was not responsible,” Mr. Mohammed said, “but share.”

But with whom? The obvious guess is Ramzi Youssef, Mohammed’s nephew. He’s currently serving a life sentence for his role in planning the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. But I can’t help but think that Mohammed is trying to protect others here, either from among his fellow detainees or al Qaeda operatives yet to be discovered. Who are they?

UPDATE: It looks like I’m hardly alone in making this connection.