GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., is using a bizarre concoction of spices and juice to dye his beard a bright color.
Mohammed, who faces a military tribunal on war crime charges, has started using "common kitchen items" like cumin, turmeric and other spices to change the color of his long beard, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale told the Washington Examiner. It was previously reported that Mohammed used breakfast items such as fruit juices and berries to dye his facial hair.
Mohammed appeared Tuesday for the start of the week's war crimes proceedings in Guantanamo Bay with a visibly dyed reddish beard.
Mohammed's beard is constantly changing shades because of the witch’s brew of spices and juices he uses. Each time he appears before the commission – which meets, broadly speaking, about one week each month – the beard has a slightly different look.
It is unclear how this smells, as the courtroom gallery is sequestered from the courtroom for security reasons, and reporters are not allowed any contact with detainees.
The standard operating procedures for military detention facilities prohibit detainees from obtaining items that are "weaponized, combustible or otherwise harmful to security," which includes hair dye, Breasseale said.
It is not known why Mohammed dyes his hair, although Reuters previously speculated that it could be an issue of vanity or religion. The Prophet Mohammad is said to have dyed his beard with henna ink.
On the other hand, the suggestion of vanity could have some validity. Janet Hamlin, an Associated Press sketch artist who has drawn an extensive number of scenes from the Guantanamo Bay courtroom, said that Mohammed objected to her sketch of him.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said "that the nose was all wrong," she recounted to NPR. "He said, 'Tell her to go get my FBI photo off the internet, use that as a reference, and touch it up.' "