WASHINGTON – Admitted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui (search) told a hushed courtroom last week that he would "fight every inch against the death penalty." But in a private meeting with the judge two days earlier, he seemed resigned to the strong possibility that he would be put to death.
"I have come to understand that the course I've chosen will lead me potentially ... to the gas chamber or the lethal injection," Moussaoui told U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema (search) on April 20.
Moussaoui made clear he has been thinking about the possibility he would die, asking a month ago to speak to an advocate who would help ensure that he is buried in a Muslim land.
Otherwise, "I will be buried in Arkansas or they don't give a damn" where, Moussaoui told the judge in the closed session.
The judge reminded Moussaoui at that session that in court filings he had made, including one just two days earlier, "you indicate that you want to accept the death penalty, which seems to be totally contradictory to the position you've taken in the past."
In reply, Moussaoui expressed hope that he would not be put to death.
"I will be ready to deal with the consequences, whatever they may be," Moussaoui told the judge. "It can be that some people decide that I will spend my life in Florence (search), Colo. It's possible."
Florence is the site of the super-maximum-security federal prison that houses several convicted terrorists, including Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. The blind Egyptian sheik has been imprisoned in the United States for the past dozen years for conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks.
When he entered his plea last Friday, Moussaoui said he had engaged in a conspiracy to free Rahman, as part of a plot that included flying a plane into the White House. Moussaoui said this conspiracy was different than that of the one on Sept. 11, 2001.
One of Moussaoui's lawyers, Alan Yamamoto, told the judge that Moussaoui on March 28 had asked for a professor named "Reza" to become part of his defense team so that he could defend himself.
"I wanted to ask Professor Reza ... to make sure that my body will be buried in a Muslim land," Moussaoui told the judge. "I wanted to ask Professor Reza if he could follow up the issue."
A Muslim professor named Sadiq Reza has communicated with Moussaoui in the past.
On Friday, Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six felonies, four of which carry the death penalty. They accuse him of conspiring with the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks and Al Qaeda leaders in a broad plot to kill Americans using commercial airliners as weapons.