NEW YORK – A Saudi student who briefly shared a room with Zacarias Moussaoui in Oklahoma pleaded guilty Monday to false statement charges, admitting he lied about their association.
Hussein al-Attas, 24, of Norman, Okla., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to seven false statement charges.
Friends of al-Attas have said he gave Moussaoui a ride from Oklahoma to Minnesota, where Moussaoui enrolled in a flight school.
Moussaoui was arrested last summer after administrators at the Minnesota flight school became suspicious of his intense desire to fly jumbo jets even though he had poor flying skills.
A French citizen of Moroccan descent, Moussaoui is the only person charged with conspiring to help 19 hijackers who plunged two passenger jets into the World Trade Center, a third into the Pentagon and a fourth into a field in Pennsylvania.
Al-Attas, born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Yemeni parents, was Moussaoui's friend and, briefly, his roommate in Norman, where Moussaoui had come to enroll at the nearby Airman Flight School.
Al-Attas, told U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey that he lied to investigators in Minnesota on Aug. 18 and in Oklahoma on Sept. 11, especially about Moussaoui, whom he knew by an alias.
"When the agents asked if I (also) knew his real name, I lied and said I did not," he said.
Al-Attas admitted he also lied about their plans to go to New York City in late August, 2001; knowledge of Moussaoui's desire to participate in jihad; a planned trip to Pakistan to speak to religious scholars and "others who believe that our religion favors participation in jihad."
He said he also tried to prevent law enforcement authorities from learning about some of Moussaoui's classmates at an Oklahoma flight school.
"I did not want to say anything that would cause problems for anyone else," he said.
He also admitted lying about plans to attend classes at the University of Oklahoma and his visit to a range to practice firing a handgun at a target.
Federal agents arrested Moussaoui and al-Attas in Eagan, Minn. on Aug. 16. Moussaoui had completed less than two days of classes.
On Sept. 17, al-Attas was flown to New York City, where he has remained in solitary confinement.
Al-Attas has said that he does not share Moussaoui's radical beliefs and has denied any involvement in the events of Sept. 11.