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Prosecutor Sees Moussaoui Link to Other Would-Be Hijackers

August 09, 2003|From Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui was part of a conspiracy to fly an airliner into the White House, a prosecutor alleged in a transcript released Friday, raising the possibility of other would-be hijackers.

While previous court documents said Moussaoui spoke of plans to crash a plane into the White House, it was unclear how he could do so without help if the 19 hijackers involved in the Sept. 11 attack were committed to four other airplanes.

"It was going to involve others," prosecutor Kenneth Karas said at a Jan. 30 court hearing, without further elaboration. "The fact that he didn't know the precise whereabouts or even if we can assume he didn't know the names of the people doesn't mean he doesn't know the objects of the conspiracy."

Moussaoui "was keenly aware of why he was here," Karas said, responding to defense lawyers' arguments that the French citizen didn't know about Al Qaeda's plot to fly planes into U.S. buildings.

Moussaoui, an acknowledged Al Qaeda loyalist, is accused of participating in a terror war against the U.S. The overt acts alleged in the indictment did not confine the conspiracy to the 19 attackers and four airplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside.

The charges mention a broad conspiracy that included religious edicts to kill U.S. soldiers in Somalia, training Al Qaeda terrorists for a holy war and attempts by Al Qaeda to obtain components of nuclear weapons.

"Thus, even if Al Qaeda never intended to put Moussaoui on one of the four planes on Sept. 11, he would nonetheless be guilty of the charges specified in the indictment," the government said in one document.

Karas said "the evidence is clear" that Moussaoui had accomplices in a plan to fly a fifth attack plane, although he did not make clear whether the alleged operation was planned for Sept. 11.

The transcript of the Jan. 30 hearing and other court documents were made public Friday by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema. Most were released with many deletions to remove secret material.

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