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Shoe bomber denies role in 9/11 attacks

Statement contradicts Moussaoui testimony

By Phil Hirschkorn
CNN

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September 11 attacks
Al Qaeda
Zacarias Moussaoui

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- Would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid denies a central part of al Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui's testimony -- that the pair were to hijack a passenger jet together and fly it into the White House.

Jurors who will decide next week whether Moussaoui should be executed for his role in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks also heard from a doctor who testified Thursday that Moussaoui is not mentally ill.

Dr. Raymond Patterson, the government's psychiatrist, contradicted defense experts who have diagnosed Moussaoui as a paranoid schizophrenic --a diagnosise viewed as a mitigating factor in deciding his sentence.

"My opinion is that Mr. Moussaoui does not suffer from schizophrenia, and he has never suffered from schizophrenia," Dr. Patterson told the jury.

The final witnesses -- one for the defense -- one for the government, were called to inflict damage on Moussaoui's credibility.

Reid's testimony, sought by the defense, came as a written statement substituted for live testimony. The defense has said it does not believe Moussaoui's assertions that he had a role in 9/11.

Reid knew nothing

Reid was not aware of al Qaeda's conspiracy to hijack and crash planes into landmark U.S. buildings, the statement said. And, according to the statement, al Qaeda never asked Reid to work with Moussaoui.

"To date, there is no information available to indicate that Richard Reid had pre-knowledge of the 9/11 attacks or was instructed by al Qaeda leadership to conduct an operation in coordination with Moussaoui," the statement said.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to the contents of the statement, called a stipulation. Lawyers hammered out the wording in closed-door hearings after U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema withdrew a subpoena for Reid.

Reid was not in the United States in the spring and summer of 2001, the statement said. At the time, Moussaoui urgently sought flight training and 19 other al Qaeda operatives in the United States made final preparations to hijack four planes and fly them into buildings in New York and Washington.

Neither Moussaoui nor Reid was in contact with the hijackers, the statement said. According to two FBI analysts, the jury was told, "It is highly unlikely that Reid was part of this operation."

In December 2001, two months after the terror attacks, Reid attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his sneakers on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami. Passengers thwarted his plan, and the plane landed safely in Boston.

Solo mission

The day before Reid went on his solo mission, he wrote a letter to his mother bequeathing his belongings to Moussaoui, casting further doubt on Moussaoui's claim that they later intended to die together in what the stipulation called a "martyrdom operation."

Reid pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in October 2002 and is serving a life sentence at the nation's super-maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado.

Moussaoui has claimed during two appearances on the witness stand he was training to pilot a Boeing 747 into the White House. Reid, a "buddy" from a London mosque and an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, would have been part of his hijacking crew, he asserted.

Defense attorneys introduced the stipulation to refute their client's story.

The day before Reid failed at his attempt to bomb a plane, the jury was told, he wrote another e-mail describing a dream: waiting for a ride and seeing a pickup truck, which was full, pass him by. Reid said he believed the dream represented his disappointment at not having been involved in the 9/11 plot.

Reid has said he originally wanted to stage an attack in Israel, but decided to target an American airliner after the United States invaded Afghanistan.

Moussaoui's defense, which rested Thursday, has portrayed his assertion that he was tapped for a 9/11 role and had advance knowledge of the attacks as a grandiose delusion.

A psychiatrist and a psychologist hired by the defense have diagnosed Moussaoui as a paranoid schizophrenic who suffers from disorganized thought.

Psychiatrist testifies

Dr. Patterson, the government's expert, has spent more time alone with Moussaoui than any other doctor. He sharply disagreed with the defense experts. His diagnosis: personality disorder.

Dr. Patterson spent two hours talking to Moussaoui in his jail cell in 2002, when the court first asked him to assess Moussaoui's mental competence, and another five hours over two days last December.

What defense experts view as delusions, he said, are beliefs based on Moussaoui's religious faith. "I don't find anything bizarre about what Mr. Moussaoui is saying, because he backs it up with the Koran," Dr. Patterson told the jury.

He said Moussaoui's belief that his own attorneys were out to kill him was partly rooted in strategic differences. He did not want them to portray him as mentally ill.

The doctor disagreed with the defense that Moussaoui's persistent dream that President Bush will free him before he leaves office is irrational.

"He is basing his belief on his faith, and I don't believe, as a psychiatrist, I can declare his faith is delusional," Dr. Patterson said.

Dr. Patterson said the idea raised by Moussaoui that he could be freed as part of a prisoner exchange with al Qaeda "was not beyond the realm of possibility."

The doctor also defended Moussaoui's view, raised in numerous court pleadings when he was acting as his own lawyer, that the FBI might have placed a listening device on an electric fan in his Oklahoma apartment.

"It was a mistake, not a delusion," Dr. Patterson said.

He also disagreed with the notion that schizophrenia, which impairs the ability to multitask, explained why Moussaoui failed at flight school. He cited Moussaoui's explosives training in al Qaeda camps. "I think that may require considerable executive function to make sure you don't blow yourself up," he said.

Patterson was the last witness in the seven-week trial. Earlier, jurors heard from several 9/11 family members who testified for Moussaoui's defense. (Full story)

Closing arguments are scheduled Monday, followed by the judge's instructions to the jury and deliberations. The only question for the jury is Moussaoui's punishment, either death by lethal injection or life imprisonment.

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