Published December 13, 2001
NEW YORK – The first person charged in a criminal indictment with plotting the Sept. 11 attacks with Usama bin Laden will stand trial in a Virginia, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
Zacarias Moussaoui, 33, was handcuffed and shackled during the brief hearing before U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, who ordered him sent to Alexandria, Va.. She also denied him bail.
"There are no conditions or combination of conditions that would safeguard the community," she said.
Moussaoui, making his first public appearance since he was detained Aug. 17, nodded in the direction of the judge when she asked him if he understood his rights.
He faces a Jan. 2 arraignment on six charges of conspiracy: terrorism, aircraft piracy, destruction of aircraft, use of weapons of mass destruction, murder and destruction of property. Four of the charges carry a potential death sentence.
Moussaoui's court-appointed lawyer, Donald DuBoulay, accused the government of failing to properly identify his client, declining to pay a $40-per-day material witness fee to his client and improperly videotaping his meetings with Moussaoui.
He asked the judge to keep Moussaoui in New York at least another day because a lawyer was flying in from France to meet with the Frenchman of Moroccan descent. The judge said she would not delay the transfer.
Outside court, DuBoulay said he would "use every legal strategy we have to contest this matter."
"I'm not going to roll over for them when they are trying to kill a man," he said. Asked if his client feared a death sentence, the lawyer said, "He's not scared."
The hearing was largely a procedural matter, since the indictment against Moussaoui was returned Tuesday by a grand jury in Virginia. It accuses him of working with 23 unindicted co-conspirators, including bin Laden, to murder thousands of innocent people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11. The attacks left some 3,200 people dead or missing.
Even though Moussaoui spent the month before the hijackings in jail for alleged immigration violations, Attorney General John Ashcroft called him an "active participant" with the 19 hijackers.
The 30-page indictment says Moussaoui's activities mirrored those of the hijackers, from attending flight school to buying flight deck instructional videos.
Moussaoui trained in Afghanistan in April 1998 at a camp run by bin Laden's Al Qaeda terror network, the indictment charged. Around the same time, Mohamed Atta and two other hijackers formed an Al Qaeda cell in Germany.
Last year, Atta and the other hijackers traveled to the United States. In July, Atta visited the same flight school in Norman, Okla., where Moussaoui would eventually enroll. He was detained in Minnesota while seeking flight training.
Moussaoui has been held in New York since September as a material witness in the investigation. His lawyer said Moussaoui was facing threats and harsh physical treatment from jail guards, and had protested his conditions.
The Bush administration opted against using a military tribunal to try Moussaoui in secret.