Can we go ahead and get the noose ready?

Sheesh. Via the NYT:

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 27 β€” Zacarias Moussaoui testified in Federal District Court here today that he knew of Al Qaeda’s plans to fly jetliners into the World Trade Center and that he was to have piloted an airliner into the White House on Sept. 11, 2001.

Taking the stand before the jury that will determine whether he is put to death or spends the rest of his life in prison, Mr. Moussaoui related in calm, measured language that he was to have been accompanied on his death-dive into the White House by Richard C. Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, among others.

But when asked by his lawyer, Gerald T. Zerkin, about what role he had in planning the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, Mr. Moussaoui said, “It’s difficult to say for sure what exactly my input was.”

And Mr. Moussaoui disputed the suggestion by the chief federal prosecutor, Robert G. Spencer, that he was “a big shot in Al Qaeda,” as Mr. Spencer put it in his cross-examination.

“Intermediate,” Mr. Moussaoui described himself.

Intelligence officials have long thought that Mr. Moussaoui was in some way going to be involved in an aerial attack, but have never had a clear sense of exactly what his role was to be.

Captured Al Qaeda detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Omar, also known as Ramsi Binalshibh, have portrayed Mr. Moussaoui as a relatively minor figure and said that while there were early discussions of a broader attack, the final plan for Sept. 11 was scaled back to involve only the four planes.

Mr. Moussaoui, whose previous courtroom behavior has sometimes consisted of belligerent ravings, was calm in the early going today. But though he was unemotional, the question of “what might have been” arose almost inevitably from his appearance.

He readily admitted that he lied to investigators after his arrest in Minnesota on immigration charges a few weeks before the attacks because he did not want to plot to be uncovered. And asked by Mr. Spencer whether he eagerly awaited the attacks, he replied, “Yes, you can say that.”

Mr. Moussaoui matter-of-factly admitted knowing 17 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers, having become acquainted with most of them in Afghanistan, where he said traveled often to confer with Al Qaeda’s leaders.

He said, too, that after his arrest he hoped to get out of jail because, as Mr. Spencer put it, he was “in a rush” to get back to his flight-simulator training so that he could eventually fly a big airplane into a target.

Comments are closed.