- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 27, 2005

Accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, named in connection with the September 11 attacks, has told the Supreme Court he can’t get a fair trial without direct access to three terror suspects now held by the Bush administration as “enemy combatants.”

In a motion filed by his attorneys, made public yesterday, Moussaoui is appealing a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, which rejected an earlier bid to interview the witnesses and handed authority to rule on the matter to U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in Alexandria.

Moussaoui, 35, charged as the 20th conspirator in the September 11 plot, was arrested on immigration charges before the attacks and had sought to interview suspected al Qaeda members detained after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — who he says would prove he had no part in the plot that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The names of the three have not been released, although two are thought to be high-ranking al Qaeda suspects Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, now detained at secret locations.

During the interrogations, Mohammed, the suspected operational mastermind of September 11, has denied considering Moussaoui for the plot, according to a report in July by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

But the report outlines a degree of confusion between Mohammed and Binalshibh over Moussaoui’s role and concludes he may have been “being primed as a possible pilot.”

Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, is the only person charged in the attacks. He was detained after staffers at a Minnesota flight school told the FBI he had paid for flight lessons mainly in cash and asked about the amount of fuel carried in a Boeing 747.

In 2002, Judge Brinkema ordered Moussaoui be allowed to question the witnesses via a secure satellite transmission instead of in the courtroom. But U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty argued such “unprecedented depositions” would jeopardize national security at a time of war.

The 40-page motion was filed Jan. 10 and made public only after classified national security information was removed.

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