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Testimony from suspects sought by Moussaoui
ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Zacarias Moussaoui has asked a federal judge to allow three more terror suspects now in custody to testify at his trial on charges of conspiring to aid the Sept. 11 hijackers.
According to court records unsealed Friday, Moussaoui asked U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema to order the government to produce Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mustafa al-Hisawi, a suspected financier of the attacks, and Abu Zubaydah, a suspected coordinator of al-Qaida terrorist activities.
Mohammed and al-Hisawi were captured March 1 in Pakistan. Zubaydah had been captured there a year earlier.
Moussaoui's motions seeking testimony from the three were filed beginning last September. Brinkema unsealed them along with a previously disclosed request from Moussaoui for testimony from Ramzi Binalshibh, alleged to have helped plan the Sept. 11 attacks.
Brinkema has issued a secret ruling that would allow Moussaoui access to Binalshibh, according to a government official speaking only on condition of anonymity. Binalshibh was arrested in Pakistan and is being questioned in an undisclosed location.
The government appealed that order to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, and Brinkema then postponed Moussaoui's trial until the appeal was resolved. Jury selection had been set to begin May 27.
The Bush administration is reluctant to have Binalshibh testify in a public trial, where he could reveal sensitive information. If Brinkema's ruling survives appeals, the government could drop the case in a civilian court and move it to a military tribunal, which could operate under greater secrecy.
The newly disclosed motions, if granted by Brinkema, would increase the pressure on the government to move the Moussaoui case to a military tribunal. Mohammed, al-Hisawi and Zubaydah also are being questioned at undisclosed locations and the government does not want them to testify at a public trial.
Moussaoui was indicted Dec. 11, 2001, and the government has said it will seek the death penalty if he is convicted. Moussaoui, whose trial originally had been scheduled for last fall, has admitted belonging to the al-Qaida terror network but has denied a role in the attacks.
Moussaoui is representing himself. A defense team, appointed by the court to assist him, has asked Brinkema to avoid a trial near the two-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, which killed more than 3,000 people.