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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 23:59 GMT
Moussaoui 'had White House dream'
By Matthew Davis
BBC News, Alexandria, Virginia

Courtroom sketch of Zacarias Moussaoui
Moussaoui cried out whenever he left the courtroom
Al-Qaeda plotter Zacarias Moussaoui told a Muslim militant he had dreamed of crashing an aircraft into the White House, his sentencing trial has heard.

The claim came in video testimony by Fazi Bafana, a former treasurer in militant group Jemaah Islamiah.

Bafana said he hosted Moussaoui, then known to him as "John", in Kuala Lumpur in mid-2000 and that Moussaoui asked for his help getting flying lessons.

Prosecutors aim to prove Moussaoui, 37, kept deliberately silent about 9/11.

The self-confessed member of al-Qaeda was arrested shortly before the 9/11 attacks - after arousing suspicion at a flight school - and pleaded guilty in April to six charges of conspiracy.

At the time, he said he was not meant to be part of the initial attacks, but was part of a broader conspiracy to use aeroplanes to strike the White House.

Judge Leonie Brinkema says the prosecution must prove that Moussaoui's actions directly contributed to deaths on 11 September.

If the jury decides they did, it will be asked to consider the death penalty.

'He told me he had a dream'

On Wednesday, jurors were played a video of Bafana being cross-examined, recorded in November 2002 - about a year after he was arrested in Singapore on suspicion of plotting to attack a US military base.

Sniffer dog checks bag outside the courthouse
Tough security measures are in place outside the courthouse

In it Bafana identified Moussaoui as the man who had told him of the dream while he stayed in his house under the pseudonym "John".

"He told me he had a dream, flying an aeroplane into the White House," Bafana said.

He said Moussaoui claimed to have told al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden of the dream, and that Moussaoui subsequently asked him to help send him to a flying club in Kuala Lumpur.

The pair visited a club on a Malaysian Air Force base, but "John" found it too expensive.

Instead he busied himself trying to find ammonium nitrate and aluminium powder for explosives and asked Bafana to make inquiries on his behalf.

Bafana - then head of a construction company - later heard that "John" was leaving Malaysia for Europe where he hoped to meet "brothers" who would help him procure flight training in the US, where it was cheaper.

The US commission which investigated the 9/11 attacks found that Moussaoui was ordered to undergo flight training in Malaysia in late 2000 by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but was unable to find a school he liked.

The statement of facts signed by Moussaoui when he pleaded guilty included a paragraph that said bin Laden had personally approved of him attacking the White House.

"Bin Laden told Moussaoui: 'Sahrawi, remember your dream,'" it said, using one of Moussaoui's aliases.

'God curse America'

The questioning of Bafana via satellite link-up was done at a time when Moussaoui was conducting his own defence, and he made repeated technical objections to the testimony, some of which were upheld.

Cross-examining the witness he tried to establish that he was only taking part in the prosecution to reduce the likelihood of being charged in the US.

But he became bogged down in repetitive questioning, and was eventually cut off by Judge Brinkema.

Later, after a number of courtroom outbursts, the judge would revoke Moussaoui's right to defend himself.

Dressed in a green prison uniform with "PRISONER" embossed on the back, Moussaoui appeared subdued, and occasionally smiled to himself, as he viewed the video evidence on Wednesday.

Watched by relatives of 9/11 victims and a clutch of journalists, he shouted out on each of the four occasions he left the courtroom for breaks.

"Allah Akbar", "Jihad" and "God curse America" were among his expressions.

Moussaoui's mother, Aicha el Wafi, sat several rows behind her son but he largely ignored her.

Moussaoui is the first person tried in the US in connection with the 9/11 attacks, in which some 3,000 people were killed.

Prosecutors have said Moussaoui's lies prevented the FBI from stopping the attacks.

If he is spared the death sentence, Moussaoui will spend the rest of his life in prison. The trial, being held in Virginia, could last for as long as three months.

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