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Motion: 9/11 conspiracy suspect may have used ID of Arizona doctor

By Phil Hirschkorn
CNN Producer

NEW YORK (CNN) -- One of the most wanted fugitives behind the September 11 terrorist attacks apparently stole the identity of an American doctor and used his name as an alias to wire money to Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man facing a public U.S. trial in connection to the attacks, court documents and interviews have revealed.

Moussaoui is alleged to have received $14,000 in two wire transfers last August from Ramzi bin Alshibh, a 29-year-old Yemeni, who prosecutors believe had a role organizing the terror plot.

Alshibh shared a Hamburg, Germany, apartment with suspected hijacking ringleader Mohamed Atta and met in Spain last summer with Atta, who U.S. investigators believe piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Suspected hijacker Marwan al-Shehhi, believed to have piloted United Airlines Flight 175 into the Trade Center's south tower, also received money wired from Alshibh, according to the Moussaoui indictment.

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The indictment says Alshibh used the alias "Ahad Sabet" to send Moussaoui the money from German train stations on August 1 and 3 of last year. Moussaoui, who is representing himself, has contended for weeks that Sabet and Alshibh are different men. A motion he filed last week claimed evidence he received from the government -- Sabet's birth certificate, college ID and passport application -- prove his point.

"The FBI has lie to the world. Ramzi is not Ahad Sabet," Moussaoui wrote.

Moussaoui is technically correct, but the distinction probably won't clear him.

Moussaoui is charged with six conspiracy charges related to terrorism, hijacking, and using weapons of mass destruction. His federal trial begins September 30, and if convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Sabet is a U.S.-educated doctor born to Iranian parents who live in a St. Louis suburb. Sabet's mother told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he lost his passport on a vacation a few years ago in Spain, when thieves grabbed his fanny pack, containing his passport, from his rental car.

Reached on the telephone by CNN, Sabet's mother confirmed that her son had once lost his passport. But she declined to discuss other details, citing the pending Moussaoui trial.

"He cannot talk to you," she said of her son. Prosecutors have counseled potential witnesses not to discuss any evidence in the case.

Sabet, who is working as a medical resident at a pediatric hospital in Phoenix, did not return messages seeking comment.

FBI agents interviewed Sabet on a trip home earlier this year.

Keith Lourdeau, the FBI's special agent in charge of the St. Louis field office, told CNN, "It's a possibility there was a case of stolen identity."

Lourdeau said that Sabet was not detained or arrested by the FBI.

Prior to medical school, Sabet attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as Moussaoui asserted in his motion, graduating in 1995 with a major in cell and structural biology.

"He was an excellent student," a source said.

Sabet was born in 1972, the same year as Alshibh. Investigators can't account for Alshibh's whereabouts after an early September 2001 trip to Spain. He did not return to Germany.

Moussaoui, 34, a French national of Moroccan descent, has admitted belonging to the Islamic militant group U.S. authorities say is behind the September 11 plot, al Qaeda, and swearing allegiance to its leader, Saudi exile Osama bin Laden. But Moussaoui maintains he had no role in the September 11 attacks.

The distinction caused a breakdown in his attempt to plead guilty to terrorism conspiracy charges in a court hearing last month.

More than 3,000 people died after four hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a rural field in Pennsylvania where passengers had prevented hijackers from reaching their target.

Around 30 relatives of the attack victims are expected to testify at Moussaoui's trial.

--CNN's Abigail Brigham and Evan Pressman contributed to this story.




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