- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

Federal prosecutors said yesterday that FBI searches of a computer once owned by Zacarias Moussaoui turned up no evidence that the accused September 11 conspirator had used a Hotmail e-mail account before the terror attacks.
"The United States was never aware of [Moussaouis] '[email protected]' account until July 2002, when the defendant listed it in one of his pleadings," prosecutors said in a court motion.
The motion was filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria in response to questions raised by Judge Leonie M. Brinkema about the FBI's knowledge of the account.
In sealed court motions filed last month, Moussaoui, 34, demanded that copies of e-mails he sent before the September 11 attacks be handed over to him. A French citizen of Moroccan descent, Moussaoui is defending himself in the case.
Apparently surprised by Moussaoui's reference to the e-mails, Judge Brinkema last week ordered prosecutors to explain "how and when, if at all, the FBI examined the contents of [Moussaouis] computers."
Prosecutors said the FBI may not have been able to find the "[email protected]" e-mails because "Hotmail is a free e-mail system that does not verify an account holder's identity and is unable to provide the account used by a particular user on a particular computer at a particular time."
Moussaoui was indicted in December on charges that he conspired with the 19 terrorists who hijacked airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, killing more than 3,000 people.
Prosecutors have said Moussaoui would have been "the 20th hijacker" had he not been detained on immigration charges on Aug. 16, 2001. Employees at a Minneapolis flight school had reported Moussaoui to authorities as a suspect foreigner who wanted to learn only how to steer and fly an airplane and not how to take off or land.
The contents of his computer and what the FBI was or was not able to glean from it have been a source of contention for several months over the bureau's handling of the Moussaoui probe.
Between the time of Moussaoui's detention and the attacks, authorities at FBI headquarters in Washington repeatedly denied requests by agents in Minnesota for a warrant to search his computer, according to a memo submitted in May to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III by Coleen Rowley, a special agent at the bureau's Minneapolis field office.
On September 11, the FBI obtained a warrant to search the computer, but found no evidence of a "[email protected]" account because Moussaoui had not downloaded anything from the account onto the computer, according to the prosecution's motion filed yesterday.
Unless Hotmail users download information from their account onto their computers, "it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find Hotmail account names from a forensically examined computer," the motion states.
A scan of the computer yielded evidence that "Moussaoui had saved e-mail activity from his '[email protected]' account," which he used to "communicate with flight schools and aviation-related entities," the motion states.
Moussaoui's trial, which had been set to begin at the end of last month, has been rescheduled for January to give him time to sort through the government's evidence.

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