SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who could face the death penalty for his role in the Sept. 11 attacks, has been peppering his lawyer with questions in advance of his arraignment Thursday before a military tribunal.
It will be the first public appearance for the No. 3 al-Qaida leader since his capture in 2003, and his lawyer, Navy Capt. Prescott Prince, told the Associated Press that he doesn't know what Mohammed will say when he addresses the judge Thursday with dozens of journalists in attendance.
"He does not present any anxiety, but it is my impression and belief that this has got to be producing a lot of anxiety for him," Prince said. "It is what could be the beginning of the endgame for him, or the beginning of some level of positive resolution."
Mohammed and four co-defendants are charged with organizing the attacks that crashed four jetliners into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a rural Pennsylvania field. He could face execution if found guilty of murdering 2,973 people.
But the al-Qaida leader hasn't shied from taking responsibility for such crimes before, allegedly boasting to a military panel last year that he had planned 31 terrorist attacks around the world.
Mohammed was born in Pakistan's Baluchistan province and raised in Kuwait, but has had much more exposure to American culture than many other Guantanamo detainees. He graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1986, and converses easily in English, stumbling over a word only occasionally, Prince said.
But he also shows flickers of confusion — a possible sign of damage from his imprisonment and harsh interrogations in the secret CIA prisons where he was held until 2006, Prince said.
"The things he says and the questions he asks suggested to me some level of cognitive impairment," Prince said.
Mohammed is one of three Guantanamo prisoners who the CIA says were subjected to particularly harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding.
War-crimes charges: U.S. military prosecutors at Guantanamo have filed war-crimes charges against former British resident and Ethiopian national Binyam Mohamed, 30, who is accused of plotting with al-Qaida to bomb apartment buildings in the United States, the Pentagon said Tuesday. A Pentagon official who oversees the tribunal system must approve the charges before an arraignment is scheduled.