Innocent plea for Moussaoui in 9/11 attacks

Death penalty possible for first man indicted in the terror attacks.

Zacarias Moussaoui invoked the name of Allah and declared to a court Wednesday "In the name of Allah, I do not have anything to plead." With his lawyer's consent, the judge entered an innocent plea to charges he conspired to murder thousands on Sept. 11.

Wearing a dark green jumpsuit with the word "prisoner" on the back, the bearded, balding Moussaoui appeared for arraignment in a courthouse a few miles from where a jetliner crashed into the Pentagon nearly four months ago.

Mr. Moussaoui's lawyers had predicted their client would plead innocent. The French citizen of Moroccan descent is the first person directly charged in the Sept. 11 attacks. He faces six conspiracy charges, including four that could result in the death penalty.

US District Judge Leonie Brinkema set a trial date of Oct. 14, with jury selection to begin Sept. 30. She rejected defense arguments that the date would be too close to the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and the vast amount of publicity that could be expected at that time.

Judge Brinkema said she was confident both sides could find an excellent jury in northern Virginia, even though the courthouse is close to the Pentagon.

Moussaoui did not speak to his lawyers, and spent much of the hearing seated with one hand lightly resting on his chin. He kept a wrinkled brown piece of paper in front of him.

Brinkema set a March 29 deadline for prosecutors to decide whether they would seek the death penalty.

Although Moussaoui has been in federal custody on immigration charges since August, when he aroused suspicions at a Minnesota flight school, the indictment says he conspired with the Sept. 11 hijackers to kill and maim victims in the United States. While accusing him of links to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, the indictment does not explain his role in the terror attacks.

The indictment says that, by the end of September 2000, Moussaoui was making parallel moves to some of the hijackers: taking flying lessons, inquiring about crop dusting, and buying flight deck training videos.

Moussaoui received money in July and August from Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, an alleged member of a German terrorist cell who was a roommate of Mohammed Atta, the suspected ringleader in the attacks, the indictment charges.

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