Monday, March 27, 2006

Moussaoui: "I Am A Terrorist! There, I Said It!"

Slow news day, but this headline stood out...

AP: Moussaoui Says He Was to Hijack 5th Plane
Al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui testified Monday that he and would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid were supposed to hijack a fifth airplane on Sept. 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House.

Moussaoui's testimony on his own behalf stunned the courtroom. His account was in stark contrast to his previous statements in which he said the White House attack was to come later if the United States refused to release an Egyptian sheik imprisoned on separate terrorist convictions.


Moussaoui denied he was to have been a fifth hijacker on United Airlines Flight 93, which four al-Qaida hijackers flew into a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11 — the so-called missing 20th hijacker. But he quickly added that he was part of the 9/11 operation, ordered to pilot a fifth jetliner into the White House. He said Reid was the only person he knew for sure would have been on that mission, but others were discussed.

Certainly this is a major revelation, but am I the only one who thinks it, ummm, doesn't make sense?

Several things immediately seemed off to me... First, there is the supposed involvement of failed shoe bomber Richard Reid. When Reid was arrested, it did not seem at all like he was a major Al Qaeda player. Rather, it seemed that he was some two-bit terrorist who wanted to play with the big boys (contrary to what we've been told, not every terrorist is the #2 guy in Al Qaeda). So the idea that he was to be an integral player in the 9/11 attacks seems like way too much of a coincidence (and maybe wishful thinking on the part of some in the government?). Not all the terrorists in the world know each other.

Second, there is the key fact of the supposed planned fifth hijacking to target the White House. The idea that they wanted to hijack a fifth plane, but that it fell apart late in the planning, is easy enough to buy. It's the targeting of the White House that's suspicious. Unless I'm mistaken from what we've previously learned about how the plan was supposed to go down, one of the four planes already was to target the White House. As I understood it, the plan was two planes for the World Trade Center (successful), one plane for the Capitol Building (didn't make it- crashed or was blown up over Pennsylvania, depending on which version of the story you buy), and one plane for the White House (wasn't able to see the target, went for the Pentagon instead last-minute). So were there two planes that were supposed to target the White House? Did plans change? It's a bit contradictory and confusing.

The revelations seemed randomly and hastingly verbalized from what the report says.

I don't want to get into the conspiracy theories, but it seems to me (on first instinct) like either Moussaoui is a) telling the court/government what they want to hear, or b) being told what to say as part of some sort of agreement. As the report itself notes, the revelations are in stark contrast to what we previously knew about these plans. Maybe I'm wrong. Moussaoui has changed his story so many times, and is likely insane, so it's best not to rush to judgement here.

I'm sure this story will be dissected in days to come, but color me skeptical for now.


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