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Moussaoui: Bury me in a Muslim land

Admitted terrorist has vowed to fight death penalty


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Zacarias Moussaoui answered "guilty" to each felony count Friday.
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Terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui pleads guilty to all counts.
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Audio Slide Show: Moussaoui plea

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• FindLaw: Case historyexternal link
• Statement of facts:  U.S. vs. Moussaoui (PDF)external link
Transcript of hearing (PDF, 248KB)external link
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Zacarias Moussaoui
September 11 attacks

(CNN) -- Zacarias Moussaoui, the first person convicted in the United States for the conspiracy behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, told the judge presiding over his case that he wants to be buried outside the United States if he is executed.

"I have to be buried in Muslim land ... not in America," Moussaoui told U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in a private meeting two days before his public plea hearing.

Wednesday, the court released a transcript of the closed-door session, which took place a week before.

The meeting occurred in Brinkema's courtroom in the Albert Bryan Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, where Moussaoui entered guilty pleas to all charges against him Friday.

Moussaoui announced at his hearing that he would "fight every inch against the death penalty."

No date has been set for the penalty phase of Moussaoui's trial.

In the room were federal marshals, a court reporter and the only court-appointed attorney with whom Moussaoui is willing to meet, Alan Yamamoto.

The transcript confirmed Moussaoui had indicated to the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys that he intended to accept a death sentence.

"I understand life and death. I had the privilege to be in war. I've seen dead bodies," Moussaoui said.

"So if you want to make sure, you can be sure that I understand what these proceeding [sic] can end up with: the end of my life."

Moussaoui, an admitted member of al Qaeda, the radical Muslim terrorist group behind the attacks, trained in its paramilitary camps in Afghanistan and managed one of its guesthouses.

According to Moussaoui's guilty plea, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden chose Moussaoui to participate in the conspiracy to fly planes into U.S. buildings and approved a plan to attack the White House.

In their meeting, Brinkema explained to Moussaoui that the government must be able to persuade a jury to vote unanimously for a death sentence.

"It can be that some people decide that I will spend my life in Florence, Colorado," Moussaoui said, referring to the federal super-maximum security prison where most convicted terrorists are incarcerated.

But Moussaoui, 36, told the judge he expected to get a death sentence in her court.

"I know you so well. You have a lynch mentality, and you won the prize. You catch the beast, you have the feather and the tar, and you are going to have the party," he said.

Moussaoui, who was born in France to Moroccan parents, denied direct involvement in the September 11 attacks. (Profile)

Yamamoto told Brinkema that Moussaoui hoped to get the U.S. Supreme Court to consider his appeal for al Qaeda detainees to testify on his behalf during the penalty phase.

The defense contends that accused plot leaders Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, who are in custody, would tell a jury that Moussaoui had no role in the attacks.

The government has blocked access to the potential witnesses, citing national security concerns, and the Supreme Court previously rejected Moussaoui's appeal.

"There is significant evidence in this record that you did not know anything about the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or any of the specific plans," Brinkema told Moussaoui.

"That would very likely put you in a situation of being able to argue very effectively that although a member of the conspiracy, you should be given a significantly mitigating role, and that might be sufficient for the jury to find that the death penalty would not be appropriate in your case."

If Moussaoui were sentenced to death and the sentence upheld, he would be executed by lethal injection, the only method approved in the federal system.

Timothy McVeigh, the first federal prisoner executed since 1963, was executed in 2001 for murdering 168 people in a 1995 truck bombing in Oklahoma City.

"I was reading something about Timothy McVeigh, and I was reading that the United States government didn't want to release the body," Moussaoui said.

In fact, the government released McVeigh's body within hours of his execution.

Moussaoui told Brinkema he wanted to ask a Muslim law professor who has met with him before to ask if he could "make sure that my body will be buried in a Muslim land."

McVeigh was cremated, at his own request. His lawyer has not revealed what he did with the ashes.

Moussaoui's defense team had asked Brinkema to delay the guilty plea until a full mental exam was done. But Moussaoui ridiculed the motion by an attorney who has not seen him in more than two years.

"I don't know in his office how can he judge my competence. He's got some divine ability?" Moussaoui said.

Brinkema declined to delay the hearing and deemed Moussaoui "fully competent" to make his pleas.

He had told her earlier, "People will know Moussaoui knowingly and voluntarily [has] chosen this course of action."


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