“Twentieth hijacker” update, from the Washington Post, with thanks to Rebecca Bynum:
Zacarias Moussaoui has notified the government that he intends to plead guilty to his alleged role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and could enter the plea as early as this week if a judge finds him mentally competent, sources familiar with the case said yesterday.
Moussaoui’s plan to plead guilty comes over his attorneys’ objections and still has several obstacles — including Moussaoui’s own whim. The French citizen, the only person charged in the United States in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, tried to plead guilty in 2002, claiming an intimate knowledge of the plane hijackings. But he rescinded his plea a week later. His mental state has been an issue in the case ever since, and U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in Alexandria is scheduled to meet with Moussaoui this week to determine if he has the mental capacity to enter a plea now, the sources said….
“I don’t think the guy is crazy,” said Andrew McBride, a former federal prosecutor in Alexandria who has followed the case. “Certainly, his comments in court to date indicate that he doesn’t think like us and has a certain hostility toward the United States. But he’s a fairly erudite guy. He speaks Arabic, French, English fairly well. He is an educated man.”…
…in 2002, Moussaoui fired his attorneys and began representing himself. In his motions, Moussaoui insulted those lawyers, who were appointed standby counsel; taunted the Justice Department; and called Brinkema everything from a “death judge” to a would-be Nazi SS officer. Brinkema later restored Moussaoui’s attorneys to the case, and they are now arguing that he is mentally incompetent to enter a plea, sources said.