Moussaoui pleads guilty to September 11 charges
* Recalls Bin Laden told him ‘remember your dream’, fly into White House
* Vows to fight against execution
ALEXANDRIA: French Al Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui on Friday pleaded guilty to six charges related to the September 11, 2001, attacks, bringing to an abrupt end the only US prosecution so far in the plot.
Moussaoui, 36, told the court he was involved in a plot to destroy the White House but was not to be part of the September 11 attack. “I came to the United States of America to be part of a conspiracy to use an airplane as a weapon of mass destruction,” he said. “I was trained on a 747 (simulator) to strike the White House. This conspiracy was a different conspiracy from 9/11.”
Dressed in a green prison jumpsuit but not shackled or handcuffed, he said he chose to plead guilty because he felt it was the best way to continue to defend himself.
Moussaoui is accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism, commit aircraft piracy, destroy aircraft, use weapons of mass destruction, murder and to destroy property. The Frenchman was detained before the September 11 attacks, in which almost 3,000 people died, and may have been the best chance for US authorities to stop the plot.
Before asking his plea for each charge, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema asked if any pressure had been applied to plead guilty. “Absolutely not,” Moussaoui replied. “I don’t expect any leniency from the Americans,” he said, but added “I will not apply for death and in fact I will fight every inch against the death penalty.”
A dozen relatives of September 11 victims attended the hearing. Some who spoke to reporters afterwards praised the US justice system and said they wanted Moussaoui to be sentenced to death.
“I’m just happy that we didn’t have to go through a long trial,” said Debra Burlingame, whose brother, Charles Burlingame, 51, was the captain of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.
“I view him (Moussaoui) and all of his confederates ... as lost souls, utterly lost souls,” she said. Abraham Scott, whose wife, Janice Scott, died in the Pentagon, said he wanted Moussaoui to be executed. “I’m a Christian, I’m willing to forgive. But in this case I can’t.” Brinkema allowed Moussaoui to admit guilt despite last-minute moves by his lawyers suggesting he was not mentally competent to enter the plea.
Brinkema said she had found him “completely competent” to make the pleas after meeting with him Wednesday. “Mr Moussaoui is an extremely intelligent man, he better understands the legal system than some lawyers that I have seen in this court,” she said. Zacarias Moussaoui admitted that Osama bin Laden told him to “remember your dream” and fly an airplane into the White House.
Bin Laden’s order was described in a five-page “statement of facts” that Moussaoui signed at a hearing in which he pleaded guilty to six charges related to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. By signing the document, he agreed that if the case were to go on trial, the government would prove the facts “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“Moussaoui knew of Al Qaeda’s plan to fly airplanes into prominent buildings in the United States and he agreed to travel to the United States to participate in the plan,” the document said.
“Bin Laden personally selected Moussaoui to participate in the operation to fly planes into American buildings and approved Moussaoui attacking the White House. Bin Laden told Moussaoui: ‘Sahrawi, remember your dream,” according to the document. afp