The Zacarias Moussaoui (September 11) Trial: A Chronology

Moussaoui enters a guilty plea.  (Sketch by
by Dana Verkouteran for AP)

May 30, 1968 Zacarias Moussaoui is born in Saint Jean-de-Luz, France.
Moussaoui embraces Islam at the age of 19.
Moussaoui moves to London to improve his English-speaking skills.  While there, he discovers Islamic extremism.
French authorities become suspicious that Moussaoui has helped fund Algerian terrorists.
Moussaoui graduates with a masters in international business from South Bank University.  He sees his brother, who notices a substantial change in his behavior, for the last time.  Late in the year, Moussaoui leaves France and makes his first visit to Afghan training camps ran by Osama bin Laden.
Sheikh Mohammed, travels to Afghanistan in 1996 to convince Osama bin Laden to give him the money and men necessary to hijack ten planes and fly them into ten U. S. targets.  Bin Laden rejects the idea as impractical.
Moussaoui attends the Al Qaeda-affiliated Khalden Camp in Afghanistan.  By now, he is on a extremist watch list posted by the French government.  Bin Laden publicly declares war on the United States
Bin Laden changes his mind and tells Sheikh Mohammed that the plan to hijack planes and fly them into U. S. buildings "now has Al Qaeda's full support."  Bin Laden suggests the Pentagon, Capitol building, and White House as buildings he would like to see hit.  By mid-1999, Sheikh Mohammed's plan shifts: he now plans to fly five planes into East Coast targets and explode five other planes bound from Asia for the United States in mid-air above the Pacific Ocean, all about the same time. Sheikh Mohammed sends Moussaoui to Malaysia to receive flight training. 
Bin Laden cancels the Asian portion of the operation in the spring of 2000, deciding it would be "too difficult to synchronize" that portion of the attack with the attacks on the East Coast.  The first of the potential hijackers travel to the United States and enroll in a flight schools.  Mohammed Atta is selected to be the chief hijacker ("emir") and given authority to determine the actual date for carrying out the operation. 
Fall 2000
In September, Moussaoui goes to Kuala Lumpur and receives a reference letter and an e-mail account from a radical Muslim businessman. Late that month, Moussaoui contacts Airman Flight School in Norman, OK. In October, Moussaoui returns to London and begins to email more U.S. flight schools, requesting information about flight training.  In early December, he leaves for Pakistan, where he meets with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  
Early February 2001
Moussaoui leaves Pakistan and travels to London, where he obtains a new French passport, devoid of any Asian travel stamps.
February 23, 2001
Moussaoui flies from London to Chicago to Oklahoma City.
June 2001
Moussaoui inquires about crop-dusting and purchases flight deck videos for Boeing 747-400 and the Boeing 747-200 from Ohio Pilot Store.
July 10, 2001
Moussaoui makes payments to Pan Am International Flight Academy in Minnesota to enroll in a simulator course in commercial flight training.
July 30-31, 2001
Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a financial coordinator for the conspiracy in Hamburg, Germany, sends $14,000 in two wire transfers to Moussaoui.
August 3, 2001
Moussaoui buys two leatherman knives from an Oklahoma City store.
August 10, 2001
Moussaoui arrives in Minnesota and Moussaoui pays $6,300 in cash to the Pan Am Flight Academy.
August 13-15, 2001
Moussaoui attends classes at the Pan Am Flight Academy and uses its commercial flight training simulator
August 15, 2001
A flight instructor suspicious of Moussaoui's behavior notifies the Minneapolis office of the F.B.I.
August 16, 2001
Moussaoui is arrested on immigration charges, mainly as a way of keeping him out of circulation.  The Minneapolis Office of the F.B.I. begins an investigation of possible terrorism connections and quickly becomes convinced that Moussaoui is part of a larger plot.
Late August 2001
The Minneapolis Office of the F.B.I. repeatedly is rebuffed by the F.B.I's Washington headquarters in its efforts to obtain approval for a search of Moussaoui's computer records and other possessions.
August 27, 2001
French authorities notify the F.B.I. that Moussaoui is a suspected Islamic extremist. 
Early September 2001
Harry Samit, a Minneapolis F.B.I. agent, writes a memo theorizing the Moussaoui might have been planning to fly a plane into the World Trade Center.
September 10, 2001
Minneapolis F.B.I. agent Harry Samit (still unable to get approval for a U.S. search of Moussaoui) finally gains approval for a plan he developed to deport Moussaoui to France.  French officials would then conduct a search of his belongings as soon as he landed in Paris. He plans to go to the office the next day to work on implementing the plan.
September 11, 2001
Terrorists hijack four commercial airliners.  Two planes are flown into the towers of  the World Trade Center in New York, causing both towers to collapse.  A third plane crashes into the Pentagon, and a fourth--headed for the U.S. Capitol, crashes into a field in Pennsylvania.  In all, nearly 3,000 people perish.
September 14, 2001
Moussaoui is moved from Minnesota to New York, where he is held as a material witness to the 9/11 criminal activity.
December 11, 2001
The U. S. government announces that Moussaoui has been indicted on six charges related to the 9/11 conspiracy.
December 13, 2001
Moussaoui is moved to Alexandria, VA for trial.  Bail is denied. Moussaoui’s court-appointed lwyer says his client plans on pleading “not guilty.”
January 2, 2002 Moussaoui refuses to plead;  Judge Leonie Brinkema enters a plea of "not guilty."
March 28, 2002 Prosecutors announce they will seek the death penalty in the Moussaoui case.
April 22, 2002
Moussaoui fires his court-appointed attorneys and asks to represent himself. Judge Brinkema orders a mental evaluation of Moussaoui.
June 13, 2002
Moussaoui is allowed to represent himself and proclaims his innocence.  Court-appointed attorneys ask to be dismissed.  Judge Brinkema orders to them to stay as standby.
July 2002
Moussaoui announces he wanted to change his plea to guilty.  Judge Brinkema gives him a week to reconsider.  On July 25, Brinkema rules Moussaoui is competent to plead guilty.  Moussaoui tries pleading guilty to 4 counts, but unsure whether Moussaoui understands the significance of his actions, Brinkema withdraws Moussaoui’s pleading.

October 2002
 Moussaoui seeks to interview Ramzi Bin-al-shibh, an Al Qaeda operative formerly based in Germany, as a potential witness.   The government opposes the motion.  (Three months later, Judge Brinkema decides Moussaoui has the right to interview Ramzi Bi-al-shibh.)
February 12, 2003
 Judge Brinkema postpones the trial indefinitely.
March 4, 2003
Moussaoui requests access to interview Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, called by the government 9-11's "mastermind."
July 14, 2003
The Department of Justice announces that it will not allow Moussaoui to question Al-Qaeda leaders, despite Judge Brinkema's decision holding that Moussaoui has a right to do so.
October 2, 2003
Citing the DOJ's decision to not allow Moussaoui to question of Al Qaeda leaders, Judge Brinkema announces that the government, as a penalty, will not be able to seek the death penalty.
October 7, 2003
The U.S. government decides that it will stick with its plan to try Moussaoui in federal court, rather than switching to a military tribunal as it had considered, as a way of avoiding exposure of security secrets.
November 14, 2003
Judge Brinkema, citing inflammatory and unprofessional briefs, ends Moussaoui’s self-representation and orders the government to allow the defense use of summaries statements by Al Qaeda detainees.
April 22, 2004
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Court overturns Brinkema's order disallowing the government from seeking the death penalty in the Moussaoui case.
January 10, 2005
Moussaoui’s lawyers file a petition with the U. S. Supreme Court appealing the court order denying Moussaoui the right to question Al Qaeda  leaders.
March 21, 2005
The Supreme Court refuses to hear Moussaoui’s appeal.
April 2005
Moussaoui sends Judge Brinkema a letter saying he wants to plead guilty.  The judge finds him mentally competent and accepts his plea.
February 6, 2006
Jury selection begins in the trial to determine Moussaoui’s sentence--life or death.
March 6, 2006
Opening statements are delivered in the Moussaoui trial.
March 13, 2006
Judge Brinkema threatens dismissal of the government's case after learning that a lawyer for the Transportation Security Administration had coached witnesses in direct violation of her order.  The judge ultimately allows the trial to go forward, but bars any of the coached witnesses from testifying.
March 27, 2006
Moussaoui, testifying against his attorney's wishes and seriously damaging his own case, offers stunning testimony that he and shoe-bomber Richard Reid were planning to hijack a fifth plane in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.  (The government later admits there was no evidence to support Moussaoui's contention.)
April 3, 2006
The jury finds that Moussaoui's lying to federal agents was responsible for deaths on 9/11 and that he is therefore eligible for the death penalty.
April 7, 2006
The second phase of the trial, focusing on aggravating and mitigating factors, opens.  Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is the first witness for the prosecution.
May 3, 2006
The jury fails to agree unanimously on a sentence of death.  Moussaoui is sentenced to life in prison.
May 13, 2006
Moussaoui is flown by private jet to Colorado, where he is placed in a federal prison (called "Supermax") in Florence to begin serving his life sentence.
May 23, 2006
Osama bin Laden releases a videotape in which he says Moussaoui had nothing to do with 9-11.

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