Detainee denies offering money to further 9/11 plot


GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- One of 14 so-called high-value prisoners held here as an alleged al Qaeda bagman has told a military panel that he didn't provide money to the 9/11 hijackers and knew little about the plot in advance.

Mustafa al Hawsawi, 39, is quoted in a transcript released Thursday by the Pentagon as saying that he learned about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks after they happened.

''I was surprised by the size of the operation,'' the transcript quotes him as saying. ``It was mostly a surprise to me.''

Just days before, according to the transcript, he had received about $20,000 in Western Union transfers from some of the men who commandeered the 9/11 aircraft.

''I help all jihadists ,'' he told the panel, at the same time flatly denying ever sending money to the 9/11 hijackers. By the descriptions in the documents and the timing of the transfers, they appear to be the Sept. 11 suicide squad returning leftover cash advances.

Hawsawi is one of 14 prisoners who had been held secretly by the CIA before being transferred to this U.S. Navy base in September for possible war-crimes trials.

The military carried out the one-hour, nine-minute hearing here on March 21 to determine whether he should be held as an enemy combatant, according to the 29-page transcript -- the seventh to be released by the Pentagon.

Previous transcripts have included the hearings of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who supposedly confessed to having plotted 31 worldwide terror operations, most never completed.

While Mohammed alluded to torture in CIA custody, Hawsawi made no mention of how he was treated before his arrival in Guantánamo in the transcript. He also told the Navy captain in charge of the proceedings that he was participating in the hearing without duress.

Intelligence material released by the White House at the time Hawsawi arrived here from CIA custody described him as a Saudi-born al Qaeda member and key financier of the 9/11 attacks. It said he ran an al Qaeda media center in Afghanistan from 2000.

Hawsawi admitted to receiving paramilitary training in an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. He said senior al Qaeda members instructed him to leave the United Arab Emirates for Pakistan on Sept. 10, 2001, and that in the days just before, he'd received the fund transfers.

But he denied ever sending funds to the 9/11 hijackers and denied specifically joining al Qaeda or swearing an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden.