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Moussaoui To Fight Death Penalty

Local families react to Moussaoui's guilty plea on terrorism charges.

Zacarias Moussaoui, 36, who trained at Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, admitted Friday in an Alexandria courtroom that he was chosen by Osama Bin Laden to fly a commercial airplane into the White House.

Springfield resident Abraham Scott, 53, looked Moussaoui in the eye on Friday, April 22, during a one-hour plea hearing at U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

"And he looked me in the eye. To me, he showed no remorse," said Scott. Scott's wife of 24 years, Janice Marie Scott, 46, died in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 in Arlington.

Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six counts, including conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism resulting in death, conspiracy to aircraft piracy resulting in death, conspiracy to destroy aircraft, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to murder U.S. employees and conspiracy to destroy property.

Moussaoui, a French citizen, faces either life in prison of death on four of the six counts, and life in prison on the final two counts.

Before U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, Moussaoui signed a five-page, 23-paragraph statement of facts, which said that Al Qaeda members "conceived of an operation in which civilian commercial airlines would be hijacked and flown into prominent buildings, including government buildings, in the United States."

<b>MOUSSAOUI CONFESSED</b> that he traveled to Minnesota in August 2001, where he trained on a Boeing 747-400 simulator at the Pan Am International Flight Academy in Eagen, Minn. On Aug. 16, 2001, Moussaoui was arrested in Minnesota by INS and FBI agents.

"I've read it 10 times. I pondered about each paragraph and I find it factual," Moussaoui said.

Although the form signed by Moussaoui states that Bin Laden approved Moussaoui to fly a plane into the White House, Moussaoui claimed Friday that he was part of a broader conspiracy and wanted to use a 747 because the plane could reach Afghanistan. He denied direct involvement in 9-11 attacks.

"I will not apply to death and I fill fight every inch against the death penalty," Moussaoui said.

All of Moussaoui's defense attorneys objected to his plea, but Brinkema accepted it.

"I am satisfied that he is competent," Brinkema said. "Moussaoui is an extremely intelligent man with a better understanding of the legal system than some of the attorneys I have seen in court."

Alan Yamamoto is the only attorney Moussaoui has talked to during the last few weeks, and Brinkema asked him whether Moussaoui understood what he was signing.

"We've argued about it and he understands we've gone around in circles. He appears to understand it," Yamamoto said. "He has responded appropriately when I have spoken to him. Those disagreements were appropriate disagreements."

<b>LOCAL FAMILIES</b>who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, said Moussaoui's guilty plea marked an important day.

"This is the day we've been waiting for since 9-11," said Hamilton Peterson, of Bethesda. Hamilton's father Donald A. Peterson and step-mother Jean Peterson were passengers on the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Somerset County, Penn. killing all on board.

"Do I want a death sentence [for Moussaoui]? Absolutely," said Peterson, wearing a red tie with small American flags.

Scott, of Springfield, said he prays that Moussaoui will eventually receive the death penalty.

"May God have mercy on your soul," Scott said he would tell Moussaoui, if given the chance to speak to him.

Janice Marie Scott had worked 17 years in the Pentagon when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the section of the Pentagon.

Abraham Scott said he works to keep her legacy and memory alive.

This May, he will present a scholarship in his wife's name to a student at Harrison High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., his wife’s alma mater.

Abraham Scott is also on the Board of Directors of the Pentagon Memorial Fund. See http://memorial.pentagon.mil/