Indictment confirms fears at flight school

Tuesday, December 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ The indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui in the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings confirms the worst fears of an official at the Airman Flight School, where the French Moroccan man took flying lessons.

``To think I helped this guy come into this country, talked to him for five months, helping him with stuff ... and he tried to kill us,'' Brenda Keene, the school's admissions director said Tuesday. ``He tried to kill the American people.''

Moussaoui raised investigators' suspicions when he sought flight lessons in Minnesota a month before the hijackings. A 30-page indictment lists six counts against him, four of them punishable by death if he is convicted.

``He sat right there in that chair,'' Keene said from her office, pointing to a seat across her desk. ``It's kind of weird.''

Moussaoui took 57 hours of flying lessons at the school between February and May, yet was not allowed to fly solo and didn't get his pilot's license. Most students are allowed to fly alone after 12 to 20 hours, but Moussaoui was a poor student and failed to advance through the course.

Keene said he was mainly remembered for stubbornly refusing to repeat lessons that he hadn't successfully completed. She said there was no hint he meant harm to anyone.

``We have hundreds of foreign students,'' she said. ``He was no different.''

A table and a wall at her office were filled with a variety of presents from students including a menorah, fez, wooden giraffe and Saudi Arabian sword.

Moussaoui first contacted the school via e-mail in September 2000 to inquire about lessons. He never signed his e-mails, Keene said, and used the pseudonym ``Zuluman Tango Tango.''

Keene learned his name early this year when she sent him a student visa form. He said on the form that he was born May 30, 1968, in France, and listed a London address. He appeared to have a valid French passport, Keene said.

He arrived at the school in late February and signed up for flight lessons, paying half of the $5,000 cost in cash.

Moussaoui, who was 5-foot-8, 200 pounds when he took a physical for the flight school, worked out at the University of Oregon's Huston Huffman Center.

The director of the center, who spoke on condition her name not be used, remembered seeing Moussaoui frequently during the summer.

She said she felt ``creepy'' after seeing the news of his indictment. She said he mainly lifted weights at the center.

A number of the people identified by the FBI as the hijackers did physical fitness training.

The indictment said Moussaoui purchased two knives in Oklahoma City. It also said that when he was detained in Minnesota, he had two knives, fighting gloves and shin guards, among other things.

The counts against Moussaoui were conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, to commit aircraft piracy, to destroy aircraft, to use weapons of mass destruction, murder and conspiracy to destroy property.

Moussaoui faces arraignment Jan. 2 in Alexandria, Va.