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A man who lied to federal agents investigating accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui pleaded guilty Monday in the Southern District of New York. Hussein Al Attas, appearing before Chief U.S. District Judge Michael B. Mukasey, said he misled agents about his involvement with Moussaoui in statements made both before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The 24-year-old Saudi-born student, who lived briefly with Moussaoui in Norman, Okla., is expected to testify against Moussaoui if he goes on trial in the Eastern District of Virginia for plotting terror attacks against the United States. Although Al Attas is not expected to serve any more time behind bars under the terms of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin told the judge that Al Attas has consented to remain in custody as a material witness pending the Moussaoui trial. Al Attas was initially detained and questioned by agents on Aug. 16, 2001, along with Moussaoui, in Minnesota. Federal agents arrested Moussaoui after employees of a Minnesota flight school told federal agents that he wanted to learn to fly jumbo jets. Moussaoui had also enrolled at the Airman flight school in Norman, where he met Al Attas. Al Attas admitted lying to agents in Minnesota when he was asked whether he knew the real identity of Moussaoui, whom he initially claimed to know only as “Shaqil.” He also lied when he was asked whether or not he had ever handled a firearm. Al Attas also said he lied when asked the purpose of an upcoming trip to Pakistan — a trip he was taking at the urging of Moussaoui, who had urged him to learn how to fight like a “true Muslim.” The two men had been engaged in a debate over whether the term “jihad” is limited to its literal definition of “religious struggle,” or whether it encompasses the broader and more violent meaning allegedly adopted by Moussaoui: armed conflict that includes making war on the enemies of Islam and killing civilians. Following Sept. 11, as agents intensified their investigation of Moussaoui’s possible links to the 19 terrorists responsible for the attacks, Al Attas lied to agents in Norman about his intention to enroll for the fall semester at the University of Oklahoma, lied about Moussaoui’s desire to participate in “jihad,” and lied concerning his intention to travel with Moussaoui to New York City in the fall of 2001. Finally, Al Attas made false statements to agents about the identity of other people who knew Moussaoui. “I did not want to say anything that would cause problems for anyone else,” he told the judge. CONFINEMENT CONDITIONS Al Attas was brought to New York City on Sept. 17 and detained at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. His attorney, Alexander E. Eisemann, said Monday that while at the MCC, Al Attas was kept in his cell 23 hours a day, denied basic privileges such as a change of clothes or the opportunity to use the telephone, and subject to harassment by some corrections officers. Eisemann said he brought the “harsh” conditions of confinement to the attention of Chief Judge Mukasey, who threatened to intervene. “He [the judge] very strongly encouraged the parties to resolve the problem or expect an order from the court,” Eisemann said following Monday’s guilty plea. Both sides in the case agreed that the applicable sentencing guideline range for someone in Al Attas’ circumstance calls for a prison sentence of between zero and six months, and that Al Attas would probably be due to be released on time served when he is sentenced Sept. 4. Nonetheless, Al Attas agreed to be detained as a material witness pursuant to a subpoena in the Moussaoui case. Raskin and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Karas, the co-chief of the Southern District’s Organized Crime and Terrorism Unit and a key member of the team prosecuting Moussaoui, indicated that the Eastern District of Virginia is expected to issue the subpoena shortly. Moussaoui attempted to plead guilty last week in Virginia, declaring his loyalty to alleged terror mastermind Osama bin Laden and telling Judge Leonie Brinkema that he knew who planned and carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. But Brinkema refused to accept the plea and urged Moussaoui, who potentially faces the death penalty, to take a week and think about his decision. Eisemann said Monday that Al Attas did not share Moussaoui’s radical Islamic views and misled investigators merely to “distance himself” from a known terror suspect. Eisemann portrayed his client as a “fairly na�ve man who was trying to help the wrong person at the wrong time.” Eisemann also said that his client is not “cooperating” with law enforcement officials, but he is being “cooperative.”

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