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Terror Suspect Calls Himself 'Dedicated Enemy' of U.S.

Courts: In unsealed filings, suspected '20th hijacker' declares his hatred of Jews and Americans.

June 18, 2002|ERIC LICHTBLAU | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, in a series of vitriolic court filings unsealed Monday, declared himself a "slave of Allah" and a "dedicated enemy of the United States of America" in lashing out at judges, Jews and his own "death team" of lawyers.

The 15 handwritten filings, unsealed by a federal judge who last week decided that Moussaoui could defend himself in court, amplify the virulent sentiments that the French-Moroccan defendant has revealed in several public court appearances.

Moussaoui quoted from the Koran at length in his pleadings, warning that disbelievers will be cast "into the fire" and that those who have "turned you out" should be killed. "Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth and wound equal for equal," he wrote several times in his filings, all of which began "In the Name of ALLAH."

But even as he condemned the evils of America, Moussaoui declared his innocence and relied on the U.S. Constitution and its bedrock principles in making a series of pretrial motions.

Among the previously secret motions filed in the last two months, Moussaoui argued that his trial should be moved from Alexandria, Va., that his defense attorneys should be fired and that he should be set free immediately. In a May 1 filing, he even demanded that U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema be examined by a court-appointed psychiatrist and removed from the case.

Brinkema had debated whether to release the filings publicly because of concerns from lawyers in the case about Moussaoui libeling participants and potentially sending coded messages to terrorists. But the documents released by the court Monday and posted on the Internet at www.vaed.uscourts.gov did not appear to have any deleted portions.

Moussaoui himself argued in a filing that there was nothing to be gained by keeping his pleadings out of public view. "Everybody [knows] that I am a dedicated enemy of the United States of America (and of course all its good citizens)," he wrote.

Later, he wrote: "I am indeed a Muslim openly hostile to the Jews and the United States of America."

Authorities suspect that Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States in connection with the Sept. 11 hijackings, was destined to be the "20th hijacker" had he not been jailed in Minnesota last August on an immigration violation after his suspicious activities at a flight school. Although there is little direct evidence tying him to the 19 hijackers, prosecutors say his behavior mirrored that of the terrorists.

His trial is set to start in late September, and he faces the death penalty if convicted on conspiracy and terrorism charges.

The development of Moussaoui representing himself has threatened to turn his trial into a circus, some of his former defense attorneys say. And legal and Islamic observers said the new batch of declarations--with their frequent references to the Koran in justifying violence and "revenge" killings--threaten to inflame Muslim relations.

"The Koran itself warns Muslims not to misquote or misuse it," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"Most people do not buy into this idea of blaming a religion for the acts of a few. Most people understand these [quotations] are taken out of context," he said. "What I'm worried about is the hatemongers out there who want to take advantage of any such situation to inflame people about Islam and Muslims, and unfortunately we see that happening."

In the filings released Monday, Moussaoui appears to have toned down his violent rhetoric somewhat since the earliest pleadings in April, focusing more on legal case law and the alleged violation of his rights to due process in proclaiming his innocence.

Moussaoui's latest motion, filed Friday, demanded his immediate release on the grounds that the FBI and the court system have engaged in a "conspiracy ... to convict me." He said he did not know any of the 19 hijackers but that authorities in both the United States and England have engaged in a years-long conspiracy to keep him under surveillance.

He argued that the court should throw out several pieces of evidence against him, including a surveillance tape of a phone conversation between a Muslim imam and Hussein Ali Hassan Alattas, a friend of Moussaoui.

Although authorities would not discuss Alattas' status Monday, he is believed to be in federal custody as a material witness in the Sept. 11 probe. He is not thought to have had any direct role in the hijackings, a government official said.

Although most of Moussaoui's demands have gone unheeded, he did win the right to act as his own defense attorney at a hearing before Brinkema on Thursday. Moussaoui said in virtually all of his unsealed filings that he did not trust his lawyers--referring to them as a "Blood Sucker Death Team."

Moussaoui said at last week's hearing that he wanted an unnamed Muslim attorney to act as "stand-by counsel" in assisting him, but the judge indicated that the out-of-state attorney might not be able to practice in Virginia. In an order unsealed Monday, she named a local attorney, Alan H. Yamamoto, to act as stand-by counsel at least for the interim.

Yamamoto said he doesn't know whether he'll have any more success in dealing with his new client than did his predecessors. "I've had no contact with him at this point, so I have no idea if he'll even talk to me."

Former defense attorney Edward B. MacMahon, for one, is glad to be off the case. "I think when you read those pleadings, you can see why it was that the attorney-client relationship broke down."

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