How did alleged 9/11 mastermind KSM dye beard red at Gitmo? Only his stylist knows.

Adam Serwer writes at Mother Jones about KSM's recent facial hair makeover. He grew a beard, but how did he get his hands on henna with which to dye it a ginger-red? Visiting friends? Home-brewed stain from materials inside the camp? No one knows, or if the camp guards do, it's a national security secret. Snip:

As for why KSM dyed his beard? Former State Department counterterrorism adviser Will McCants says that KSM is probably trying to emphasize his commitment to Islam. KSM grew his long, flowing beard only after he was imprisoned at Guantanamo—previous photographs show him with a trim beard or a thick mustache.

"KSM is following the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, who recommended dyeing a grey beard red," McCants says, calling it "a sign of devotion, particularly after looking like Ron Jeremy all those years." But how did KSM go from the porn-star look to more of a Gimli? Apparently, it would damage national security if we knew.

More here.

PHOTOS: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who claims to have organized the 9/11 attacks, shown at left in a Red Cross photo taken at Guantanamo Bay, and at right in a snapshot by US forces shortly after his 2003 capture.


  1. If there’s a religious case to be made for dying your beard with henna, then I would guess that the facility made the dye available to him, just as they provide inmates with Korans and access to Imams.

    But why on earth Mother Jones thinks there’s a story here…

    1. While I will never understand why so many of the world’s Muslim men seem to think that having a bright orange beard is preferable to having a white or gray beard, you are correct in this – some religious men consider beard-coloring to be an obligation, even, because Muhammad did it.

  2. The guy’s wearing a red keffiyeh. That’s one possible source of red dye. All you need is some hot water to get enough of the dye out to make your white tees pink, as any student knows (or eventually discovers). I’m sure you could refine the process to make a beard dye.

  3. I recently met a guy who just got out of jail.  He told me all sorts of horrible stories.  One was about how the victims of sexual abuse were often forced to wear “makeup” or pink undies while being assaulted.  Both the “makeup” and the clothing dye were made from the candy coating on Skittles and M&M’s.  I hear people also use them to make paintings too, so it’s not all bad stuff.

    Point being, maybe he did what American prisoners do…throw some Skittles and M&M’s in the toilet to make a dye.

    1. To reinforce my story above:  If you google “Skittles prison dye,” an article comes up with this passage:

      “Out of limited supplies, prisoners create art. They lodge bits of sponges into ballpoint cartridges to make paintbrushes. For paint, they mix water with Nescafe grinds or dye from candy they can buy from the commissary. M&Ms – plain, not peanut – work best. For deep reds, they fold red dye in with ground powder from vitamins. Navy blue takes a three-step process mixing royal blue candy coating with blue and black ink from pens. The color purple is best achieved from Skittles.”

  4. Any time KSM’s bearded pic comes up, I see The Daily Show’s loveable muppet character “Gitmo”.

  5. The beard turned Red from all the chemicals they feed him (and, oh yes, he could “admit” ANYTHING at this point…)… Concrete turning into powder anyone? Or, why not–bomb-sniffing dogs removal and “internet cables” installments in the WTC week before the 11th?? Oh, come on, let’s get back to serious questions: who passed the red paint to the drugged guy :P!

  6. Can anybody tell us what’s the meaning of having a red beard? I went once to Trinidad, and there were many guys with big beards dyed red, they seemed to be from India or Pakistan, and obviously Muslim. Usually the older ones, not the young ones.

    And I have seen men like that in pictures from Pakistan too.

    1. Q:Is it permissible to use hair dyes, and which ones?

      In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,It is permissible, rather recommended (mandub) to dye the hair of the head (and beard for men) provided the ingredients used in the hair dye are Halal.The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:“Change the old age (white/grey hair), and do not imitate the Jews” (Sunan Tirmidhi & Sunan Nasa’i).He (Allah bless him & give him peace) also stated:“The best dye to change your old age is Henna (a red plant dye) and Katm (type of grass)” (Narrated by many Hadith Imams).There is a difference of opinion between the scholars on whether the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) himself dyed his hair. However Sayyiduna Abu Bakr and Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with them) did dye the hair of their head and beard, thus it will be classed as recommended (mandub), if not Sunnah.The great Hanafi Imam, Ala’ al-Din al-Haskafi states in his Durr al-Mukhtar:“It is recommended for men to dye their hair and beard, even outside war”. (Durr al-Mukhtar 5: 271)It is stated in the famous Hanafi Fiqh Reference book al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah:“The scholars have all unanimously agreed that it is a Sunnah for men to dye the hair of their head and beard with red colour. It is also considered a sign for Muslims” (5/329).

  7. The people holding him prisoner could easily have given it to him in exchange for some form of good behavior or other. Obviously there are a limited number of things they have to offer him as incentives, and hair dye inasfar as it poses no security risk I can see would be an easy choice if he seemed to want it.

  8. “former State Department counterterrorism adviser”

    In 50 years, that’ll be like saying “Former Torquemada aide”.

  9. It would help if the article actually HAD a photo of him with a red beard instead of salt and pepper.
    is it only by word of mouth that we know of his beard?

  10. Did they serve him any food that could be a natural dye?  Beets come to mind as a natural red dye that was commonly used to make other foods like cake red….

  11. How about that thing wrapped around his head? If it’s not colorfast, or soaked in vinegar, he could turn a river into blood. 

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