- The Washington Times - Monday, March 25, 2002

From combined dispatches
Prosecutors want to seek the death penalty in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the September 11 attacks, and Attorney General John Ashcroft said yesterday he will decide the matter by Friday.
"People who are a part of a conspiracy and do everything they can to advance the conspiracy to kill Americans are appropriately charged with death-eligible offenses," Mr. Ashcroft said on "Fox News Sunday."
But whether the case merits the death penalty, "that's a matter that is considered with all the facts involved in the case," he said.
Moussaoui, 33, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, is charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden, the hijackers and others to commit the September 11 attacks. His trial is to begin Sept. 30 in Alexandria.
The government's intention to seek the death penalty in the Moussaoui case was first disclosed in a letter March 7 from U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty and lead prosecutor David J. Novak in the northern Virginia district to at least dozens of victims' families.
Also yesterday, Mr. Ashcroft said he has ordered a "very substantial" investigation at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and reassigned one official as authorities searched for four Pakistanis who disappeared after arriving in the United States on visa waivers.
The INS is already under fire over student visa approvals for two of the September 11 hijackers, and Mr. Ashcroft said he found the new cases of wrongful visas maddening and hinted legislative changes other than the administrative overhaul now pending on Capitol Hill might be in order.
"I believe we will find these individuals, and I believe we will be able to correct this situation," Mr. Ashcroft told Fox News. "But it's part of the need to renovate the INS."
Mr. Ashcroft declined to comment on the status of the search for the four Pakistanis, who arrived March 16 in Norfolk on a Russian ship and did not return to the vessel when it departed for Savannah, Ga.
He said the four had been wrongly granted visa waivers by the INS.
"We have launched a very substantial investigation," he said. "I believe that these visas were granted in a way which violated the regulations, that appropriate precautions were not taken."
Officials have said none of the four had been linked to any "terrorist or criminal-related" activities, but Mr. Ashcroft said one official had been reassigned pending the outcome of the investigation.
Authorities say an INS official in Norfolk entered the wrong birth date for one of the four Pakistanis. If the right date had been entered, the INS would have learned the Pakistani had an immigration violation in Chicago from several years ago.


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