ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A man matching the description of Al Qaeda adherent Zacarias Moussaoui told an Islamic radical in Malaysia that he had a dream about flying a plane into the White House, according to court testimony Wednesday.
The man also asked the group for $10,000 to bankroll his flight training in the United States, but the group's leaders agreed to give him only a small fraction of that, according to the testimony.
The jury at Moussaoui's sentencing trial for terrorist conspiracy watched videotaped testimony from Fauzi bin Abu Bakar Bafana, acknowledged treasurer of the Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network, a group linked to Al Qaeda. Moussaoui is the only man charged in the United States in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Singapore-born Bafana said he was asked to host a man known to him as John at his home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1999 and John talked to him about dreams he had in his sleep, including one to attack the White House with an airliner.
The deposition was taken in 2002, after Bafana was taken into custody in Singapore. At the time, Moussaoui was serving as his own lawyer. On the videotape, he frequently objects to prosecutors' questions — nearly all of his objections were overruled.
During cross-examination, Moussaoui asked Bafana, "Why are you cooperating with the United States? What is the reason?"
Bafana responded that the Singapore authorities ordered him to cooperate, and he added, "I believe killing of innocent civilians is not in accordance with Islam."
Moussaoui also tried to raise doubts about Bafana's testimony, quizzing him about details of his trips to Afghanistan.
In the deposition, Bafana does not identify John as Moussaoui but gives a general description that fits him. The testimony also is consistent with Moussaoui's previous admission in court that Usama bin Laden had once told him to "remember your dream." Moussaoui did not deny being John.
Bafana testified that he wrote proposals to attack U.S. military interests in Singapore and shared them with Al Qaeda. He also said he took John to a flying club in Kuala Lumpur but John did not join because it was too expensive.
Bafana said that when John asked for $10,000 in U.S. dollars to help pay for flight training in the United States, he was instructed to give him $2,000 in Singapore dollars — about $1,200 in U.S. currency — instead. He said the instruction came from his superior in the terrorist network, Indonesian Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali.
The testimony on the third day of the trial was part of the prosecution's case that Moussaoui deserves the death penalty instead of life in prison. The government argues that if Moussaoui had not lied about his terrorist links and the flight training he eventually took in the U.S., the government would have unraveled the Sept. 11 plot.
Defense attorneys argue the FBI's incompetence and bureaucratic gridlock kept authorities from stopping the attacks, and a confession from Moussaoui would have changed nothing.
FBI agents acknowledged under cross-examination that the bureau knew years before Sept. 11 that Al Qaeda had plans to use planes as missiles to destroy prominent buildings.
They also acknowledged numerous missed opportunities in the months before Sept. 11 to catch two of the hijackers with terrorist links known to the government, even though the pair frequently used their own names in the U.S. to rent cars, buy plane tickets and even, once, to file a police report after one got mugged.