- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 12, 2001

A federal grand jury yesterday indicted a French Moroccan for conspiracy in the September 11 terrorist assault on America, the first indictment in a global investigation directly related to the suicide attacks that killed more than 3,000 people.
Zacarias Moussaoui, 33, was named on six counts of conspiracy in a 30-page indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Virginia. He is accused of plotting with Osama bin Laden and members of his al Qaeda terrorist network to murder thousands of people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Named as unindicted co-conspirators were bin Laden and al Qaeda members Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad; Moustaffa Ahmed al-Hawasawi, accused of providing funds to Mr. Moussaoui from banks in the United Arab Emirates; and Ramzi Binalshibh, also suspected of moving cash to Mr. Moussaoui.
The unindicted co-conspirators also included the 19 dead hijackers, who crashed four fuel-filled jetliners in New York, Washington and a field in Pennsylvania.
Four of the counts against Mr. Moussaoui could result in the death penalty. He is scheduled for a criminal arraignment Jan. 2 in federal court in Alexandria.
"Today, three months after the assault on our homeland, the United States of America has brought the awesome weight of justice against the terrorists who blithely murdered innocent Americans," said Attorney General John Ashcroft in announcing the indictment. "Al Qaeda will now meet the justice it abhors and the judgment it fears."
In addition to charging Mr. Moussaoui in the September 11 attacks, the indictment also accuses the al Qaeda network of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism, including aircraft piracy, the use of weapons of mass destruction and the murder U.S. citizens.
To aid his goal of killing Americans, whom he regarded as "infidels," the indictment said, bin Laden operated terrorist training camps in Afghanistan; financed the purchase of the camps, along with explosives, weapons, and communications and electronic equipment; and paid for the worldwide travel of al Qaeda members.
The indictment also accused bin Laden of trying to obtain the components of nuclear weapons and ordering Americans to be attacked in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia.
Mr. Ashcroft said Mr. Moussaoui engaged in the "same preparation for murder" as the 19 hijackers who carried out the September 11 strikes.
He said Mr. Moussaoui trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, obtained flight training in the United States and received funding from sources in Germany and the Middle East.
Mr. Ashcroft said Mr. Moussaoui, like his co-conspirator Mohamed Atta, believed to be the ringleader of the September 11 attacks, made inquiries with a crop-dusting company and had in his possession a computer disk containing information related to the aerial application of pesticides.
"The indictment issued today is a chronicle of evil, a carefully documented year-by-year, month-by-month, day-by-day account of a terrorist conspiracy that gathered both force and intensity in the weeks before September 11," Mr. Ashcroft said.
He said Mr. Moussaoui was an "active participant" in the conspiracy.
The indictment describes how Mr. Moussaoui worked in concert with Mr. al-Hawasawi and Mr. Binalshibh to carry out the attacks. It said that when Mr. Binalshibh was refused entry into this country, he acted as a "financier and facilitator of terrorism," transferring funds to Mr. Moussaoui and others from Hamburg, Germany.
Mr. Al-Hawasawi is accused of moving funds to Mr. Binalshibh in Germany who, in turn, wired money to Mr. Moussaoui for flight training in the United States.
"The indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui is an important step in securing justice for the victims of September 11," Mr. Ashcroft said. "The United States will comfort and care for those victimized by terrorism. The United States will pursue and punish those who perpetrate terrorism. We will be relentless and resolute. We will not forget. And we will prevail."
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said Mr. Moussaoui first came to the attention of the FBI on Aug. 15, when agents in Minneapolis received information about his flight training.
He said the agents, working with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, were able to ensure that Mr. Moussaoui was detained on visa violations, and he has remained in custody since.
Mr. Mueller said that after his arrest, Mr. Moussaoui refused to cooperate with investigators.
He said agents in Minneapolis sought a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act order to search his computer, although lawyers at FBI headquarters believed there was insufficient probable cause for the order.
"Could we have done something else? Perhaps. Who can say? All I can tell you is that the agents on the scene attempted to follow up aggressively. The attorneys back at FBI determined there was insufficient probable cause for a FISA, which appears to be an accurate decision. And September 11 happened," he said.
Mr. Mueller said Mr. Moussaoui arrived in this country in February, opened a bank account with $32,000 and immediately enrolled in a flight school.
He said Mr. Moussaoui received $14,000, sent to him by Mr. Binalshibh from Germany, in August. On Aug. 10, he paid $6,300 in cash for flight lessons.
Mr. Ashcroft said no decision had yet been made on whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty against Mr. Moussaoui.
He said the Justice Department will "expeditiously" follow procedure that calls for an evaluation of indictments involving death-eligible offenses.
He also said the decision to try the case in Virginia instead of New York, which has handled most of the country's high-profile terrorism cases, was made because investigative efforts have been focused in Washington under the direction of Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, with prosecutorial expertise gathered from around the country.

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