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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK
Moussaoui enters 9/11 guilty plea
Sketch of Zacarias Moussaoui in court
Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six charges
Zacarias Moussaoui has pleaded guilty to six charges of conspiracy in connection with the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States.

The US government says it will seek the death penalty for Moussaoui, the only person in the US charged over 9/11.

However, he said he was not part of the 9/11 plot itself, but a wider conspiracy to attack the White House.

His lawyers had attempted to prevent him pleading guilty, saying he was mentally unfit to do so.

But the judge in the case, Leonie Brinkema, ruled that he was mentally fit to enter a plea.

"We are seeking the death penalty in this case," said US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

"The fact that Moussaoui participated in this terrorist conspiracy is no longer in doubt," he added.

"Moussaoui and his co-conspirators were responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocents on September 11."

Moussaoui said he had been personally chosen by Osama Bin Laden in a plot to crash planes into US buildings.

"I was being trained on a 747 to eventually use this plane to strike the White House," said the man, who wore a prison jump suit in court.

In 2002, Moussaoui, a Moroccan-born French citizen, tried to plead guilty but changed his mind after the judge gave him a week to reconsider.

I came to the United States of America to part of a conspiracy to use an airplane as a weapon of mass destruction
Zacarias Moussaoui

He was arrested a month before the attacks - in which nearly 3,000 people died - on immigration charges, after a flying school in Minnesota reported that he had been acting suspiciously.

Previously he had lived in London on and off for nine years, where he attended the Finsbury Park mosque, at a time when it was linked to extremist activities.

British shoe bomber Richard Reid also attended the mosque.

White House plot

Moussaoui entered the courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday, to answer six conspiracy charges: to commit acts of terrorism, to commit aircraft piracy, to destroy aircraft and to use weapons of mass destruction, to kill US government officials and to destroy US government property.

The first four carry the possibility of the death penalty.

Judge Brinkema asked him if he understood the charges against him and the sentences which could be imposed.

"Yes, indeed," he answered. "I don't expect any leniency from the Americans."

On each count, the judge asked: "How do you plead?"

Zacarias Moussaoui arrives in court in Alexandria, in Virginia
The death sentence will be decided by a jury

Each time, the 36-year-old calmly answered: "Guilty."

However, he also said he would contest the death penalty being sought by the US authorities.

The judge then asked him whether he had been promised anything by the US government in exchange for his guilty plea, to which he answered "no".

Moussaoui then used a long closing statement to maintain he was not part of 11 September plot, but was part of a wider conspiracy which involved planning to use a Boeing 747 to attack the White House.

"I came to the United States of America to part of a conspiracy to use an airplane as a weapon of mass destruction," he said.

He also complained about negative assistance of his court-appointed lawyers, who had all advised him against entering a guilty plea.

The case now moves on to sentencing, which will be decided by a jury.


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Moussaoui's involvement began in Britain




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