ALEXANDRIA, Va. Zacarias Moussaoui pleaded guilty today to conspiring with the Sept. 11 hijackers to kill Americans, saying he was trained to fly a plane into the White House during a later attack.
I expect no leniency, Moussaoui told U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, acknowledging his admission could bring him the death penalty.
Brinkema accepted the plea, making the French citizen the lone person convicted in a U.S. court in connection with the 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Moussaoui, more subdued than in earlier court appearances during which he sometimes ranted at Brinkema, answered her questions politely.
How do you plead? she asked him for each of the six felony counts against him. Each time, Moussaoui answered, Guilty.
At one point, he said, I was being trained on a Boeing 747 to use this plane to strike the White House. He said the training was for a different attack that was to come later.
Brinkema asked defense lawyer Alan Yamamoto, the only attorney Moussaoui has been willing to talk to in recent weeks, if he was satisfied the defendant understood what he was doing.
When I have spoken to him, we have disagreed, Yamamoto said. He is facing the possibility of death or life in prison. He has told me that he understands that.
The court is accepting today the defendant s six pleas of guilty to the six counts of the indictment, Brinkema said.
You are found guilty at this time, she told Moussaoui.
She said she had discussed his pleas at length with him earlier.
He has a better understanding of the legal system than some lawyers I have seen in court, the judge said.
Moussaoui stood quietly before her today, with two security officers behind him. He was not shackled.
He wore a green prison jumpsuit. He had a full beard.
After standing for five minutes to review the statement of facts against him, he asked to sit down. The courtroom was hushed as reviewed the document, then signed it.
Prosecutor Robert Spencer told the court he believed Moussaoui should be ordered to pay restitution to the victims of Sept. 11.
The first time the judge noted that part of penalties could include a $250,000 fine, Moussaoui replied, I wonder where I will get the money.
Before he formally entered the plea, he was asked if he understood the signing statement could be used against him to prove he was guilty. Absolutely I do understand that, he said.
A few seconds later, he added, Where do I get the pen?
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