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Al Qaeda detainees contradict Moussaoui testimony

Deborah Charles / Reuters | March 29 2006

Top al Qaeda operatives and others in U.S. custody said in testimony on Tuesday that Zacarias Moussaoui was untrustworthy and not part of the September 11 attacks.

One day after Moussaoui gave shocking testimony that he was meant to fly a plane into the White House as part of the September 11 plot, the detained enemy combatants contradicted him.

Most of the testimony was read aloud from detainees who were forbidden from testifying because of national security concerns. Much of it questioned Moussaoui's competence, and the man said to be the financier of the September 11 attacks said he had had no involvement with Moussaoui.

Moussaoui is on trial to determine if he gets the death penalty for admitting guilt in connection with the attacks in New York and Washington in which about 3,000 people died. The trial is likely to go to the jury this week.

In a clear effort to rebut Moussaoui's own damaging admissions on Monday, the defense presented a statement from Sayf al-Adl, a senior member of al Qaeda's military committee, who said Moussaoui was "absolutely not" going to take part in the September 11 mission.

Mustafa al Hawsawi, the financier who gave several of the hijackers airline tickets to the United States, said he had "no knowledge" of Moussaoui's financial dealings.

DAILY CALLS FROM MOUSSAOUI

A senior al Qaeda operative, known as Khallad, said Moussaoui broke security by phoning him every day during a trip to Malaysia in 2000.

Khallad, who was connected with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in east Africa and masterminded the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, was eventually forced to turn off his telephone.

In testimony from Riduan Isamuddin -- better known as Hambali -- a top member of Jemaah Islamiah, an Asian group linked to al Qaeda, Moussaoui was depicted as "not bright in the head and having a bad character."

"According to Hambali, Moussaoui managed to annoy everyone he came in contact with," Hambali's testimony said, adding that Hambali said he did not trust Moussaoui.

He said Moussaoui kept speaking of dreams he had to fly a plane into the White House. Moussaoui was also constantly suggesting operations Jemmah Islamiah members thought were "ridiculous," according to the testimony.

Hambali said he eventually paid for a plane ticket to Europe in order to get Moussaoui to leave Malaysia.

On Monday Moussaoui admitted he had problems in Malaysia but said Osama bin Laden still said he could take part in the hijacking plot.

Moussaoui, who was arrested on August 16, 2001, said he did not have many details of the plot but knew he was to fly a plane into the White House and the towers of New York's World Trade Center were also to be targets.

Last year, when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with the attacks, Moussaoui said he was meant to be in a second wave of attacks.

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