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Sept. 11 suspect to be tried in Virginia

Moussaoui appears in federal court in Manhattan Thursday.  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A federal judge Thursday ordered Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in direct connection with the September 11 attacks, transferred to Virginia for trial.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones ordered the 33-year-old French citizen of Moroccan descent moved to Virginia where he is scheduled to be arraigned January 2 in Alexandria on conspiracy charges in the hijackings and attacks that killed about 3,300 people.

Sporting a heavy beard and wearing a light-blue T-shirt and tan slacks, Moussaoui shuffled into the federal courtroom in Manhattan, his arms and feet shackled, escorted by three federal marshals, his lawyer and prosecutors.

Moussaoui was arrested in Minnesota a month before the attacks on immigration charges after he aroused suspicion by trying to buy time on a jumbo jet flight simulator at a flight school.

The multiple conspiracy charges against Moussaoui say he engaged in the "same preparation for murder" as the 19 hijackers who commandeered four U.S. jets that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and rural Pennsylvania. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports on the details of the U.S. government's case against the only suspect charged with direct connection to the attacks (December 14)

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CNN's Jim Bittermann reports French authorities will oppose the death penalty if Moussaoui is convicted (December 13)

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Moussaoui's lawyer unsuccessfully argued his client should not be transferred to Virginia.

"He's not going to plead guilty, that's for certain," said Donald duBoulay. "We have faith in the American justice system."

No decision on transfer

The U.S. Marshals Service said no decision has been made on when Moussaoui would be taken to Virginia or where he would be held. An official told CNN several locations have been considered, including a military facility.

Security will be extraordinarily tight, and his arrival in Virginia will be announced only after he is in a cell, officials said. Two officials who asked not to be identified said the transfer did not appear to be imminent.

After the September 11 attacks, Moussaoui was held as a material witness and sent to New York to be questioned.

He was indicted Tuesday for conspiring with Osama bin Laden, 19 hijackers and others to murder thousands of people.

U.S. officials said that so far Moussaoui has not asked for assistance from the French consul in New York in arranging his defense.

Such assistance is typically provided by most nations, including the United States, when their citizens are arrested in another country.

The French government finds itself involved in both sides of the Moussaoui case. While France refuses to extradite anyone to a country with the death penalty, it is a member of the antiterrorism alliance.

U.S. officials said much of the information that led to Moussaoui's arrest was provided by French intelligence officials.



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