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Defense lawyers use al Qaeda statements to rebut Moussaoui 9/11 testimony

[JURIST] Court-appointed lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive] rested the case of their headstrong and sometimes fractious client in federal court Tuesday by reading recorded statements from five al Qaeda leaders to show that contrary to Moussaoui's own testimony [JURIST report], he was not in fact slated to participate in the Sept. 11 attacks [JURIST news archive]. Instead, the attorneys sought to portray Moussaoui as a "loose cannon" not permitted by his superiors to be a 9/11 hijacker, with one al-Qaeda operative testifying that Moussaoui broke security rules, disagreed with internal plans, and suggested fantastic fundraising schemes, including kidnapping Chinese businessmen for ransom. Bin Laden aide Sayf al-Adl said that Moussaoui was "a confirmed jihadist but was absolutely not going to take part in the Sept. 11, 2001, mission," a statement confirmed by several other witnesses.

As Moussaoui has already pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to 6 terrorist conspiracy charges [indictment], the sentencing trial currently underway will only decide whether he receives life in prison or the death penalty. To achieve the death penalty, prosecutors must show that if Moussaoui had revealed information to the FBI at the time of his arrest in August of 2001, the 9/11 attacks may have been prevented. Defense lawyers have argued that the administration already had ample information suggesting the possibility of such an attack, and on Tuesday, one defense lawyer read excerpts from the 9/11 commission report [text] that mentioned 12 security reports filed from 1994 to 2001 "suggesting that terrorists might use airplanes as weapons." Closing arguments in the sentencing trial are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. AP has more.

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