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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 17:39 GMT
Moussaoui 'slipped through net'
Zacarias Moussaoui outside a London Underground station
Moussaoui: A catalogue of intelligence oversights
US and UK authorities reportedly missed opportunities to investigate the first man charged with the terror attacks on the United States.

Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested in the United States in August after flight instructors grew suspicious because he wanted to learn how to steer a plane - but not how to land or take off.

Questions are now being asked about why his arrest did not lead US investigators to uncover the 11 September hijack plot.

French security sources say they told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of his suspected links with extremist groups - and that he had spent time in Afghanistan.

Immigration charges

FBI director Robert Mueller said the authorities had decided in August that they lacked legal authority to search Mr Moussaoui's computer.

He was then being held on immigration charges.

It was later found to contain information on flight training and crop spraying from planes.

His inquiries about hiring a crop duster plane are now being seen as possible evidence of a plot to spread chemical, biological or radioactive material in an American or western city.

French tip-offs 'ignored'

Security sources in Paris say British police turned down French requests to question him in the 1990s - when he espoused radical Islam as a student in London.

Zacarias Moussaoui
Far from his family, short of money, Moussaoui became a militant in Britain
The sources said French authorities had alerted UK police after they detected that he had travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the sources said.

The US indictment made public on Tuesday alleges that he spent time in terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

Mr Moussaoui is alleged to have made the same preparations as the 19 hijackers suspected of carrying out the attacks.

Financial links alleged

He is also said to have received money from the al-Qaeda network led by Osama Bin Laden - the man accused of masterminding the attacks.

In a letter to his mother published by a French newspaper in November, Mr Moussaoui denied involvement in the attacks. He said he feared that a case was being fabricated against him.

Watching television in detention, he is reported to have cheered when he saw the hijacked planes smash into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Bryant
"An intelligence failure of catastrophic scale"
Dina Newman studied with Moussaoui
"He had a lot of angry questions"
Elisa Massimino, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
feels Moussaoui will get a fair trial in the US
See also:

12 Dec 01 | Americas
France to assist terror suspect
11 Dec 01 | Americas
America's first accused
14 Sep 01 | Europe
FBI 'ignored leads'
12 Dec 01 | Europe
Germany bans 21 Muslim groups
11 Dec 01 | Europe
Looking for European al-Qaeda
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