Defendant's Words May Help 9/11 Case

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Federal prosecutors trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, could get a big boost from evidence that helped to acquit another alleged conspirator.

In statements submitted to a military commission last year, Mr. Mohammed said Salim Hamdan was a barely literate functionary with no involvement in the Sept. 11 conspiracy or other al Qaeda plots, contrary to prosecutors' allegations. Mr. Mohammed explained that his role as an al Qaeda leader gave him broad knowledge of the terrorist network's personnel and operations.

"I personally was the executive director of 9/11, and Hamdan had no previous knowledge of the operation, or any other one," Mr. Mohammed wrote in response to the written questions. "Due to my work as...a military official in al Qaeda, my job is to oversee all the al Qaeda cells abroad," he added.

A second alleged Sept. 11 conspirator, Walid bin-Attash, also provided answers to interrogatories -- written questions from defense attorneys -- that corroborated Mr. Hamdan's version of events.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that Mr. Mohammed, Mr. bin-Attash and three other alleged conspirators will be tried in a civilian criminal court in New York, rather than the military-commission proceedings initiated during the administration of former President George W. Bush.

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