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Hearing for terror suspect set for Thursday

Zacarias Moussaoui
Zacarias Moussaoui  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A hearing was held Thursday afternoon for Zacarias Moussaoui, the first person charged for his direct role in the September 11 terror attacks, the U.S. Attorney's office in New York announced.

Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, has been charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to "murder thousands of people" in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday.

The multiple conspiracy charges against Moussaoui, 33, allege that he engaged in the "same preparation for murder" as the 19 hijackers who commandeered four U.S. jets and crashed them. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

The U.S. government has filed its first criminal charges related directly to the the September 11 attacks. CNN's Susan Candiotti reports (December 12)

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France opened Moussaoui file in '94 
Details of the 19 hijacking suspects 
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Attack on America
Zacarias Moussaoui was indicted on six counts:
1) Conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism

2) Conspiracy to commit air piracy

3) Conspiracy to destroy aircraft

4) Conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction

5) Conspiracy to commit murder

6) Conspiracy to destroy property

Bin Laden, head of the terrorist network al Qaeda, was among those named as co-conspirators in the indictment. The network, Ashcroft vowed, "will meet the justice it abhors and the judgment it fears."

The case against Moussaoui will not be sent to a military tribunal, government sources said.

The suspect is to be arraigned January 2 in Alexandria, Virginia, officials said. The 30-page indictment, which Ashcroft described as a "chronicle of evil," alleges that Moussaoui trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan.

Moussaoui was arrested in Minnesota weeks before the attacks on a passport violation charge and was in custody at the time of the attacks. Authorities have suspected that he was somehow involved in the plot.

Frank Dunham, a federal public defender and one of two appointed to Moussaoui, said he had not met his client but said it was "our duty" to represent him.

Also named as co-conspirators in the indictment were Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz Alomari, Wail Alshehri, Waleed Alshehri and Satam M.A. Al Suqami, the suspected hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11.

In addition, Ayman al Zawahiri, head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, who is alleged to have provided funding to Moussaoui and some of the 19 hijackers from United Arab Emirates bank accounts, were named as co-conspirators.

Ashcroft also named Ramzi bin al Shibh as a co-conspirator, whom authorities said was a member of the al Qaeda Hamburg, Germany, cell and who is alleged to have transferred funds to Moussaoui.


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