A photograph of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed architect of the 9/11 attacks, that has recently circulated on the Internet has been digitally manipulated, Pentagon officials said Friday.
The picture, which shows Mohammed with a long bushy gray beard holding an open book and smiling, had raised concerns about both its authenticity and how it came to be smuggled out of the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
US authorities ban the taking and distribution of any non-authorized photos from Guantanamo, where Mohammed and his four co-accused are awaiting trial on charges of killing 2,976 people in the 2001 attacks on the United States.
The photo of the Pakistani suspect was published on an Internet site, Al-Ebdaa, and showed a different visage to the one of Mohammed last seen during his last court appearance on May 5 when his beard appeared to have been dyed red with henna.
“The recent photos of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, et al, that have surfaced on the Internet represent a very poor effort at digital manipulation,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Breasseale said in an email to AFP.
He said they had been manipulated from authorized pictures by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The pictures were “clearly using the official work of the ICRC — approved for release by the US government — in order to deceive and rally those inclined toward radicalism.”
The ICRC is the only organization which is allowed to regularly visit the Guantanamo inmates. Some of its pictures were approved for publication in 2009.