Binalshibh was Mohamed Atta's roommate and is the self-described coordinator of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
During the interview, conducted in Karachi, Pakistan, in June, Binalshibh describes how the Sept. 11 plot evolved from the choice of terrorists to the choice of date. Correspondent Bob Simon's report will be broadcast tonight, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m., ET/PT.
Although Binalshibh hoped to be one of the four pilots leading last year's attacks against America, he was unable to obtain a visa. Binalshibh stayed behind in Hamburg, Germany, and became the link between Atta in Florida and the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in Afghanistan. Binalshibh feels no remorse for last year's attacks.
"No sane Muslim doubts that the operations of the blessed day of Tuesday, on the 11th of September in Washington and New York, was one of the glorious days of the Muslims," says Binalshibh. "…I do not regret any of this whatsoever, for this is our path and the end is best for the righteous, Allah willing. We will persevere with this until Allah the Almighty grants us victory or takes us to him as martyrs."
Fouda interviewed Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Binalshibh in Pakistan. Fouda tells Simon that, during the interview, Mohammed admitted Sept. 11 was his idea.
"Immediately, Khalid introduces himself as head of the military committee of Al Qaeda," says Fouda. "That committee actually was the arm of Al Qaeda, which decided, first of all, according to Khalid, to strike America inside America and to eventually choose the targets, which were actually hit on Sept. 11."
In 1998, Atta and Binalshibh became roommates in Hamburg, Germany. Atta became the leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist cell in Germany. "This brother was amazing," Binalshibh says about Atta. "I have never come across anyone from among the brothers that I know who was more eager than him to perform the night prayers, to the point where I remember the neighbors complain about his reading of the Koran at night."
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed continued working on his plan. Fouda tells Simon that, according to Mohammed, Al Qaeda originally planned to attack American nuclear facilities. "The first thing that jumped into their minds, according to Khalid [Shaikh Mohammed], was striking at a couple of nuclear facilities in America," says Fouda. "That, according to [Mohammed], was later taken off the list for fear it might get out hand… He just said, 'We decided not to consider this for now.'"
Instead, Al Qaeda decided to strike symbols of America's military, political and economic power. In the United States, Atta and two other pilots began taking cross-country flights to check things out. The hijackers fine-tuned their plan and determined that the best time to attack the cockpit was during the 15 minutes after takeoff.
According to Binalshibh, the hijackers divided into teams. "The group storming the cockpit is formed of two persons," says Binalshibh. "It would be the nearest group to the cockpit, in order to seize the opportunity when the door is opened and enter into it swiftly, take it over and slaughter those inside completely and then the brother pilot comes very quickly to assume the rest of the mission and guide the aircraft."