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Feds can't find Moussaoui e-mail

From Phil Hirschkorn
CNN New York Bureau

Zacarias Moussaoui
Zacarias Moussaoui

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ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- Despite searching all the computers known to have been used by alleged terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, the government could not find any records of e-mails he may have sent or received after his arrival in the United States last year, according to court documents.

A detailed government report has been made public by U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema, who has scheduled the twice-delayed Moussaoui trial for June 2003.

The highly technical report on the computers and e-mail search followed a request by court-appointed defense attorneys assisting Moussaoui that computer evidence be authenticated.

Brinkema also had ordered the government to explain why it failed to secure Moussaoui e-mail evidence until it was too late to recover it.

Moussaoui, 34, a French citizen of Moroccan heritage, is the only person publicly charged in the United States in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people.

Moussaoui is accused of conspiring with the 19 men who hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in rural Pennsylvania. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.

The voluminous evidence in the case includes 140 computer hard drives, according to prosecutors. Four of the computers were used by Moussaoui. FBI investigators copied their hard drives using Safeback and Logicube software, according to the court report.

One of the computers was Moussaoui's own Toshiba laptop for which the FBI failed to get a search warrant before the attacks, although Moussaoui had been in custody on an immigration violation charge for almost a month.

The FBI's Minneapolis office arrested Moussaoui after a local flight school reported suspicious behavior -- he asked to be trained to fly 747 jumbo jets and didn't have a pilot's license, the school said.

FBI agents inspected the laptop belonging to Mukkaram Ali, Moussaoui's roommate in Norman, Oklahoma, where Moussaoui first settled and attended flight school after entering the United States in February 2001. The agents also inspected two desktop computers in a cluster at the University of Oklahoma.

Computer experts were unable to find any trace of Moussaoui's "xdesertman@hotmail.com" account or 27 variations of that address, the court report says.

A search of computers Moussaoui may have used at a Kinko's in Eagan, Minnesota, also came to a dead end. Kinko's cleans out the hard drives on its public computers every week.

The FBI did not visit the Kinko's until October 2001, although Moussaoui had a Kinko's receipt with him when he was arrested in August 2001. The receipt did not indicate which of the store's six computers he used.

He last logged on for eight minutes just four days before his arrest, prosecutors say. The 19 hijackers also accessed the Internet with Kinko's computers, the FBI has said.

The FBI never found any record of Moussaoui using e-mail service providers other than Hotmail.



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