Moussaoui Trial Winds Down

This artist's rendering shows Zacarias Moussaoui, second from left, being questioned by defense attorney Gerald Zerken, right, as Edward MacMahon, second from right, and Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema, left, listen, Monday, March 27, 2006 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren

After testimony from a pair of high-ranking al Qaeda captives who asserted Tuesday that Zacharias Moussaoui had no role in the 9/11 attacks, his defense rested.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Wednesday afternoon, CBS News reports.

Two more high-ranking al Qaeda captives asserted Tuesday that Zacarias Moussaoui had no role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, one portraying him as a misfit who refused to follow orders.

In both cases, for security reasons, their testimony was read to the jury because the government did not want them to appear in court.

Waleed bin Attash, often known simply as Khallad, is considered the mastermind of the 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole and an early planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, plot. He said he knew of no part Moussaoui was to have played in the 9/11 attacks.

Another captured terrorist, identified as Sayf al-Adl, a senior member of al Qaeda's military committee, told U.S. interrogators that Moussaoui was "a confirmed jihadist but was absolutely not going to take part in the Sept. 11, 2001, mission."

Their testimony backs up the claims of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, chief organizer of the Sept. 11 attacks. He said in testimony read to the jury Monday that Moussaoui had nothing to do with the plot, but was to have been used for a second wave of attacks distinct from Sept. 11.

The defense introduced an array of written testimony from these captives that was read to the jurors in an effort to undercut Moussaoui's dramatic testimony Monday that he was to hijack a fifth plane on Sept. 11 and fly it into the White House.

The most colorful language came from the operative known as "Hambali," CBS News' Stephanie Lambidakis reports.

Hambali described Moussaoui as "very troubled" and "not right in the head." He "talked about dreams about flying planes into the White House," but didn't do anything about them, Hambali said. When Moussaoui showed up in Malaysia, he was nothing but trouble for his handlers. He goofed up an assignment to buy ammonium nitrate, and after they had bought 4 tons of fertilizer for $1,580, Hambali complained to Mohammed that after Moussaoui left, "they were stuck with the bill and the ammonium nitrate," while Mohammed worried such a large purchase would set off alarm bells, Lambidakis reports.

Hambali also said Mossaoui read the Koran instead of doing anything else (like planning for attacks), and was coming up with schemes such as "kidnapping Chinese businessmen and holding them for ransom."

Khallad also portrayed Moussaoui as something of a loose cannon during a trip to Malaysia in 2000, where he met members of a radical group affiliated with al Qaeda. Khallad said Moussaoui breached security measures and al Qaeda protocol.

For example, he called Khallad daily, despite instructions to call only in an emergency, to the point where Khallad turned his cell phone off.

Another witness, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, who served as a paymaster and facilitator for the Sept. 11 operation from his post in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, said he had seen Moussaoui at an al Qaeda guesthouse in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the first half of 2001, but was never introduced to him or conducted operations with him.

Al-Hawsawi said he provided money and tickets to four of the Sept. 11 hijackers and to a fifth man, identified as Muhammed al-Qahtani, who was to be a hijacker but was denied entry to the United States before Sept. 11 in Orlando, Fla.

In the written statement, Al-Hawsawi quoted Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as describing al-Qahtani as the last hijacker for the mission who would "complete the group."

Thus it appeared al-Qahtani was the so-called missing 20th hijacker of Sept. 11, a role the government initially thought Moussaoui was to have played before his arrest a month earlier.

Also Tuesday, defense attorney Alan Yamamoto read a summary of three Federal Aviation Administration intelligence reports on hijacking from the late 1990s and 2000, reports that concluded a hijacked airliner could be flown into a building or national landmark in the U.S. However, this was "viewed as an option of last resort."

The FAA had reports of questionable reliability that Osama bin Laden had discussed suicide hijackings and had discussed hijacking a U.S. air carrier in an effort to free imprisoned Egyptian cleric Omar Abdul Rahman.
  • Joel Roberts

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