Judge orders man indicted in Sept. 11 terrorist attacks sent to Virginia for trial

Friday, December 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Four men who quickly became FBI targets in the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks appeared before judges, but only one was facing faces charges related to terrorism.

In one courtroom Thursday, a Virginia man whose phone number was found inside a car registered to one of the hijackers pleaded guilty to forgery. In another, two men arrested with boxcutters on a train the day after the attacks were charged with conspiring to commit credit card fraud.

Only Zacarias Moussaoui, a 33-year-old Frenchman who has been jailed since August, stands charged in the Sept. 11 attacks. He was denied bail Thursday and ordered sent to Alexandria, Va., for trial.

Moussaoui walked into U.S. District Court in Manhattan in handcuffs and shackles. He didn't enter a plea and only nodded in the direction of Judge Barbara Jones when she asked if his understood his rights.

After Moussaoui's indictment Tuesday on six conspiracy charges, four of them punishable by death, Attorney General John Ashcroft described him as an ``active participant'' in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that left 3,200 people dead or missing.

The indictment said Moussaoui's activities mirrored those of the 19 hijackers as he attended flight school, opened a bank account with cash, bought flight deck videos and looked into crop dusting planes. He was detained Aug. 17 on immigration charges after he aroused suspicion trying to pay cash for flight lessons in Minnesota.

Jones denied him bail, saying: ``There are no conditions or combination of conditions that would safeguard the community.''

Moussaoui's court-appointed lawyer, Donald DuBoulay, accused the government of failing to properly identify his client, declining to pay a $40-per-day material witness fee to his client and improperly videotaping his attorney-client conferences. His client wanted to donate the daily material witness payments to the orphans of Chechnya, he said later.

The attorney also asked the judge to keep Moussaoui in New York at least another day because a lawyer was flying from France to meet with him, but the judge declined. Details of the transfer were not released.

Moussaoui's arraignment was scheduled for Jan. 2 on conspiracy charges for terrorism, aircraft piracy, destruction of aircraft, use of weapons of mass destruction, murder and destruction of property. The indictment says Moussaoui worked with 23 co-conspirators to murder thousands.

Asked if his client feared the potential death penalty, the lawyer said, ``He's not scared.'' He said Moussaoui was facing threats and harsh physical treatment in jail, and had protested his conditions.

In another courtroom, in Alexendria, Va., Mohamed Abdi, whose first name and phone number were found on a map in a hijacker's car left at Dulles International Airport, pleaded guilty Thursday to forgery for signing his landlord's name on a $220 rental subsidy check.

Abdi, a Somali native and naturalized U.S. citizen, ``may be a witness to the most heinous crime ever perpetrated on America,'' prosecutor Rob Spencer has said. Abdi has never been charged in the attacks.

Attorney Joseph Bowman said Abdi ``has been beating his brains out to figure out how his name and phone number ended up in that car.'' He said the map may have been left in a car Abdi donated to the Salvation Army.

In the case of the two men detained Sept. 12 after they were found with boxcutters on an Amtrak train in Texas, a law enforcement source told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday that investigators no longer believe they were connected to the attacks.

The two were charged Thursday with conspiring to commit credit card fraud. The criminal complaint identifies one as Syed Gul Mohammed Shah, with an alias of Ayub Ali Khan, the name that has appeared in published reports. He and the other man, Mohammed Azmath, had been roommates in Jersey City, N.J.

In court papers, the government alleged the men were responsible for credit cards with an outstanding balance of approximately $414,000. Neither man spoke nor entered a plea. The charges could carry up to 10 years in prison.

Lawyers for the men said they would consent to continued detention without bail for now. Defense lawyer Lawrence Feitell said Shah had consented to more than 30 hours of interrogation and lie detector tests. He said the boxcutter is standard equipment for the men, who had worked at newsstands.

``Little by little, this case is fading away,'' Feitell said.

In a separate case, a Jordanian college student who was detained as a material witness and later accused of lying to a grand jury about his association with one of the terrorists, was freed from federal custody Thursday after posting $500,000 bond. He was not accused of participating in the attacks.

Osama Awadallah, 21, planned to fly home Friday to San Diego, where family and friends raised $50,000 cash _ and turned over the title of his brother's ice cream truck _ to secure the bond. While on bail, he must wear an electronic bracelet and report in daily. No court date was set.