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Sources: Moussaoui tied to 9/11 plot

From Kelli Arena
CNN Washington Bureau

Zacarias Moussaoui
Zacarias Moussaoui

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An al Qaeda leader in U.S. custody told investigators that accused September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui met with a man believed to have been one of the masterminds of the attacks, sources said Wednesday.

The information came from Ramzi Binalshibh, who has said he helped coordinate the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Binalshibh told investigators that Moussaoui met with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a senior al Qaeda operative, in the winter of 2000 and that Mohammed provided Moussaoui with contacts in the United States, sources said.

The information may be crucial to prosecutors who are trying Moussaoui on charges of conspiracy with al Qaeda and the September 11 plot. They have not publicly introduced any evidence linking him directly with the attacks.

Binalshibh has told interrogators he sent money to Moussaoui on at least two occasions, as prosecutors alleged in the Moussaoui indictment.

The sources said Binalshibh told interrogators Mohammed was not confident about using Moussaoui in the September 11 plot and that Moussaoui drew too much attention to himself while taking flight lessons in the United States in 2001.

Binalshibh told investigators Mohammed decided not to use Moussaoui in the attacks unless he considered it absolutely necessary.

Asked about the revelations, one of Moussaoui's standby lawyers, Frank Dunham said, "The defense is not at liberty to comment."

Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, has admitted to belonging to al Qaeda, but he has denied any role in a 9/11 plot.

Binalshibh was captured in a September raid in Karachi, Pakistan, and has since been in U.S. custody, undergoing interrogation at a secret location.

Moussaoui was arrested in August 2001 on immigration charges in Minnesota and later was charged with the conspiracy counts. His trial is scheduled to begin in June.

As part of his defense, Moussaoui is attempting to use Binalshibh as a witness. But prosecutors are fighting that because Binalshibh is undergoing interrogation.

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