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Frenchman 1st to be indicted for Sept. 11 attack -- from AFP

A Frenchman became the first person to be indicted in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, US Attorney General John Ashcroft announced on Tuesday. Zacarias Moussaoui, 33, a French citizen of Moroccan origin who has been in U.S. custody since before 9-11, could be executed if convicted.
Frenchman first suspect indicted in September 11 probe

A Frenchman became the first person to be indicted over the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, US Attorney General John Ashcroft announced.

Three months to the day after the attacks, Zacarias Moussaoui, 33, who is of Moroccan origin, was charged on six counts, ranging from conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, destroy aircraft and murder US employees, to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.

Four of the counts carry the death penalty.

Moussaoui, who has been in custody since August 16, "engaged in the same preparation and training for murder as the 19 co-conspirators who carried out the September 11 hijackings," the indictment alleges.

It also names as co-conspirators Osama bin Laden and other members of his al-Qaeda organization, along with the head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. None of them have been indicted

"This morning a grand jury in the eastern district of Virginia charged Zacarias Moussaoui ... with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to murder thousands of innocent people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania on September 11," Ashcroft said at a press conference.

A preliminary court hearing for Moussaoui, born in Saint-Jean de Luz in southern France, is scheduled for January 2 in Alexandria, Virginia, the Justice Department said.

The indictment says Moussaoui attended an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan; received flight training in the United States; inquired about crop dusters; and received funding from sources in Germany and the Middle East.

However, unlike his alleged co-conspirators, the 19 men who hijacked four commercial airliners, Moussaoui was arrested before the attacks.

He was picked up August 16 by US authorities after instructors at the Minnesota flight school he was attending tipped them off that he had been acting suspiciously.

The apprentice pilot was interested in learning to steer a jet but not to land or take off, according to authorities.

The indictment also cites a list of co-conspirators headed by bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

The 19 hijackers who commandeered the four jets that were used as airborne missile on September 11, as well as two men who sent funds to the alleged terrorists, were also named on the list.

"Today 7,000 miles from the battlefield in Afghanistan, another victory is taking shape in the war on terrorism," Ashcroft said.

"The United States of America has brought the awesome weight of justice against the terrorists who brutally murdered innocent Americans... al-Qaeda will now meet the justice it abhors and the judgment it fears."

"We will be relentless and resolute. We will not forget, and we will prevail," he said.



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