Ashcroft announces indictments in September 11 attacks
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced Tuesday what he said were the first federal indictments directly related to the September 11 terror attacks.
Ashcroft said Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, has been charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to "murder thousands of people" in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.
The multiple conspiracy charges against Moussaoui allege that he engaged in the "same preparation for murder" as the 19 hijackers who commandeered four U.S. jets and crashed them. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Bin Laden, head of the terrorist network al Qaeda, was among those named as co-conspirators in the indictment. The network, Ashcroft vowed, "will meet the justice it abhors and the judgment it fears."
The charges were filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, and the case against Moussaoui will not be sent to a military tribunal, government sources said.
The suspect is to be arraigned January 2 in Alexandria, officials said. The 30-page indictment, which Ashcroft described as a "chronicle of evil," alleges that Moussaoui trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan.
Moussaoui was arrested in Minnesota weeks before the attacks on a passport violation charge and was in custody at the time of the attacks. Authorities said he has long been suspected of somehow being involved in the plot.
Also named as co-conspirators in the indictment were Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz Alomari, Wail Alshehri, Waleed Alshehri and Satam M.A. Al Suqami, the suspected hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11.
In addition, Ayman al Zawahiri, head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, who is alleged to have provided funding to Moussaoui and some of the 19 hijackers from United Arab Emirates bank accounts, were named as co-conspirators.
Ashcroft also named Ramzi bin al Shibh as a co-conspirator, whom authorities said was a member of the al Qaeda Hamburg, Germany, cell and who is alleged to have transferred funds to Moussaoui.
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