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US Justice Dept.: 131 Charged in Sept. 11 Attack Probe - 2002-08-23

A top U.S. law enforcement official says a total of 131 people have been charged with various criminal violations stemming from the investigation into the September 11 terrorist attacks. Most of those charged pled guilty and are either in jail or have already served prison time.

A senior Justice Department official who spoke on condition that he not be identified by name says 85 of the 131 people charged in connection with the terrorism investigation resolved their cases by pleading guilty. Nine others were convicted of criminal charges and six people had their cases dismissed. The cases of 31 other individuals are still pending.

These numbers do not include hundreds of non-citizens who were detained on immigration violations after September 11.

The Justice Department official says the only person so far directly charged in connection with the September 11 attacks is Zacarias Moussaoui. His conspiracy trial is scheduled to begin in January.

The official did not rule out others being charged for direct involvement in the conspiracy that hatched the attacks, but declined to discuss specific names of possible suspects.

The official told reporters that most of those charged in the wake of the attacks were allegedly involved in illegal activities that could be of help to terrorists, including document and identity fraud. Others face charges ranging from bank and credit card fraud to gun violations.

The Justice Department official says several countries have been very cooperative in the terrorism investigation and says information from some of those countries helped prevent planned terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in South Asia, France and Italy.

The official also told reporters that the main objective of the criminal investigation remains to detect and disrupt terrorist networks and prevent another attack on the United States.