- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2006


Al Qaeda terrorist and would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid will not be testifying at the death-penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema yesterday vacated the order she previously had issued requiring Reid to testify for the defense at Moussaoui’s trial.

Judge Brinkema gave no substantive explanation for her order. She cited a letter written yesterday by Moussaoui’s court-appointed lawyers and a motion filed by the federal public defenders in Boston who represented Reid. Both the letter and the motion by Reid’s lawyers are sealed.

Reid is serving a life sentence in Colorado after a failed attempt to blow up an American Airlines flight in 2001.

Moussaoui testified last month that he and Reid were going to hijack a fifth plane on September 11 and fly it into the White House.

That testimony came after years of denying any specific role in the September 11 attacks. Moussaoui previously had said he was part of a separate al Qaeda plot, and written testimony from September 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed asserted that Moussaoui was never part of the plot but was instead to be in a second wave of attacks.

Moussaoui’s defense lawyers have suggested Moussaoui fabricated his story about Reid and their role in September 11 in an effort to sabotage his own defense and achieve martyrdom through execution. The lawyers also indicate that Moussaoui is trying to inflate his role in history.

Defense lawyers had hoped that Reid would disavow any knowledge of Moussaoui’s claim, thus bolstering their argument that Moussaoui was lying when he claimed he was to have been one of the September 11 pilots.

On Thursday, though, Moussaoui took the stand for a second time and elaborated that Reid had was on a “need-to-know basis” and had not yet been informed of al Qaeda’s plans for September 11. Thus any denial by Reid may have been a moot point in light of Moussaoui’s most recent testimony.

Moussaoui, in his testimony Thursday, referred to Reid as his “buddy” from the al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and said the two had tried to exchange letters while in prison.

Although plans to have Reid take the witness stand have been abandoned, it is possible that lawyers will craft a written statement or stipulation that will contain some of what Reid would have said.

Calls to Reid’s lawyers in Boston were not returned yesterday.

The trial resumes Monday, and Judge Brinkema said the jury may begin deliberations early next week.

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