- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the September 11 attacks on America, yesterday said he wants to fire his defense attorneys.
The 33-year-old French Algerian called for the destruction of the United States and Israel during a hearing in federal court in Alexandria to discuss conditions of his imprisonment.
The accused terrorist told U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema that both prosecutors and his own attorneys were government employees who were conspiring to guarantee his execution.
Moussaoui said he would not cooperate with his court-appointed defense team, asked the judge for permission to hire his own Muslim attorney and said he did not want to be tried by a jury, but by the judge.
"What they've done is a sophisticated version of the kiss of death," Moussaoui said in a surprising statement as the hearing began. "The United States will not have a trial without me. They only need me for the gas chamber."
Moussaoui, speaking in heavily accented English, charged during a 50-minute speech that the government was "spending millions of their evil money to kill me" and that his current attorneys, headed by federal public defender Frank Dunham Jr., have "no understanding of terrorism, Muslims and mujahideen."
"I do not want them because I do not believe they are in my best interest," he said.
Moussaoui said he had never told his defense team "anything of substance," and that he has more than $30,000 to pay for his own legal representation, but the cash has been frozen by presidential order.
He also said he prayed to Allah for the "destruction of the United States of America," and for the "destruction of the Jewish people and state.
"America, I'm ready to fight even with both hands tied behind me in court," he said.
Judge Brinkema refused to fire Moussaoui's attorneys, but ordered a mental examination to determine whether he is capable of defending himself. She said Moussaoui does not need to cooperate with his attorneys, but needs competent counsel present in the courtroom.
She also said she would not immediately rule on Moussaoui's request for a trial by judge without a jury.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty, whose office is prosecuting the case, announced last month the government would seek the death penalty for Moussaoui. In court papers, Mr. McNulty said Moussaoui deserved to die for conspiracy in the September 11 attack that saw "the largest loss of life resulting from a criminal act in the history of the United States."
Mr. McNulty told the court that prosecutors would prove Moussaoui took part in an international plot that resulted in crimes committed "in an especially heinous, cruel and depraved manner in that they involved torture and serious physical abuse to the victims."
Moussaoui was indicted Dec. 11 by a federal grand jury in Alexandria on six counts of plotting with Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network to murder thousands of people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Mr. Dunham said he was "not totally surprised" at Moussaoui's request, adding that a Muslim identified only as John Doe who sought to visit the defendant in jail could have explained what the defense was trying to accomplish. But Moussaoui said he had no intention of meeting with "John Doe."
Named in the indictment 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 Moussaoui from banks in the United Arab Emirates; and Ramzi Binalshibh, also suspected of moving cash to Moussaoui.
The unindicted co-conspirators include the 19 dead hijackers, who crashed four fuel-laden jetliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a western Pennsylvania field.
Moussaoui first came to the attention of the FBI on Aug. 15, when agents in Minneapolis received information about his flight training. He was detained by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service on visa violations.

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