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Court papers detail FBI suspicions

Moussaoui mistakenly given 48 classified papers

From Phil Hirschkorn (CNN)

Zacarias Moussaoui
Zacarias Moussaoui

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ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) -- A month before the September 11 terrorist attacks, FBI agents judged Zacarias Moussaoui to be an Islamic extremist preparing to commit a terrorist act with an aircraft, according to a court document released Friday.

The document reveals some details of the FBI's two interviews with Moussaoui in August 2001, including what prosecutors call "one agent's supposition that the defendant, if released, might take control of an airplane and crash it into the World Trade Center."

The document is one of three unsealed by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinema on Friday that discuss potential conflicts between the court's rules preventing pretrial disclosures of evidence and Congress' ongoing public hearings into clues the government may have missed prior to the hijacking attacks on the Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Moussaoui, 34, a French national of Moroccan descent, faces six conspiracy counts -- and possibly the death penalty if convicted -- for his association with al Qaeda. Opening statements in his trial are currently schuduled to begin on January 6, 2003, after jury selection in December.

Moussaoui was jailed in Minnesota on an immigration charge on August 15, 2001. Suspicious instructors at a Minneapolis area flight school had reported him to the authorities. FBI agents interviewed Moussaoui twice before the Minneapolis field office filed a report on August 18.

Order Acknowledging Security Breach (FindLaw document, PDF format)external link

Government motion to admit cockpit recordings (FindLaw document, PDF format)external link
Moussaoui standby counsel's response  (FindLaw document, PDF format)external link
• Interactive: The hunt for al Qaeda
• Audio slide show: Bin Laden's audio message, 2/03
• Special report: Terror on tape
• Special report: War against terror

"Moussaoui was extremely evasive in many of his answers," the FBI report said, according to the prosecution document.

Investigators asked him why he attended flight school in the United States, as opposed to England, where he lived. They asked about his sources of income, but the report said Moussaoui was not "able to give a convincing explanation" for his more than $30,000 cash on hand or in an Oklahoma bank.

Moussaoui told agents that he had traveled to Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and had "connections" to Saudi Arabia. When agents pressed him on his trips to Pakistan, the gateway to Afghanistan, al Qaeda's base before Sept. 11, "the questioning caused him to become extremely agitated, and he refused to discuss the matter further," the report said.

Moussaoui's indictment accuses him of preparing for terrorist hijackings by attending U.S. flight schools -- he went to one in Oklahoma first -- and attending al Qaeda military camps in Afghanistan, a fact Moussaoui has since conceded in open court.

"As the questions began to touch on the gaps in his financial support, his reasons for training at Pan Am [Flight School in Minnesota], and his religious beliefs, he became increasingly angry," according to the FBI report quoted in the prosecution document.

The agents finally confronted him with "information that he was known to be an extremist intent on using his past and future aviation training in furtherance of a terrorist goal," the FBI report said. That's when Moussaoui asked for a lawyer and the second interview stopped.

The FBI Minneapolis assessment of Moussaoui: "'an Islamic fundamentalist preparing for some future act in furtherance of radical fundamental goals' involving an aircraft," the prosecution document says.

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