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US Federal Judge Approves Transfer of Terrorist Suspect - 2001-12-14

A Federal Court judge has given the go-ahead to transfer Zacarias Moussaoui, the first person indicted in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, to Virginia to stand trial.

Mr. Moussaoui appeared briefly in a tightly secured Federal courthouse in New York just blocks away from the site of the attack on World Trade Center. He was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier in the week on six charges, including conspiring to "murder thousands of people," and the intent to destroy property and aircraft and use weapons of mass destruction. Osama bin Laden is named as a co-conspirator in the indictment.

Now Federal Court Judge Barbara Jones has denied bail to Mr. Moussaoui, saying "there are no conditions or combination of conditions that would safeguard the community" if he were freed on bail and ordered that he be sent to Virginia to stand trial.

Mr. Massaoui's court-appointed lawyer, Donald DuBoulay, said he expects his client will be sent to Virginia at once. "He is going to be removed very quickly to Virginia, the district of Virginia, and he'll fight the charges down there," he said.

Mr. Moussaoui was first detained in Minnesota in August after his interest in learning to fly a plane without learning to take-off and land aroused suspicions at a local flight training school. He was in jail in Minnesota on immigration violation charges at the time of the attacks.

Authorities allege Mr. Moussaoui intended to be the 20th hijacker on the four airplanes that terrorists commandeered on September 11. Nineteen conspirators died in the attack.

U.S. prosecutors say a former roommate of the ringleader of the September 11 plot wired money to Mr. Massaoui at the same time that funds were transferred to several of the hijackers.

Mr. Massaoui's defense team is expected to argue that he may not have known the specifics of the mission since he never got on the plane.

Mr. Massaoui is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Virginia on January 2. He could face the death penalty. Mr. Moussaoui is a French citizen of Moroccan descent and the French government has expressed concern about the U.S. death penalty.