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Mother of terror suspect arrives in U.S.

By Cleve Mesidor

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- The mother of the only person charged so far with conspiracy in the September 11 attacks flew to the United States with an attorney Thursday night to see her son Zacarias Moussaoui and ask that he be given a fair trial and spared the death penalty.

Moussaoui is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, to commit acts of terrorism, to commit air piracy, to destroy aircraft, to destroy property and to use weapons of mass destruction.

The 33-year-old French citizen of Moroccan descent is accused of conspiring with accused terrorist Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network to "murder thousands of people" in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon -- the sites where four jets crashed after being hijacked.

Moussaoui's mother, Aicha El Wafi, flew from Paris, France, to Dulles International Airport near Washington and was staying at a hotel in the suburb of Alexandria. She and the attorney spoke to reporters at an impromptu news conference at the airport

El Wafi also planned to attend her son's arraignment in an Alexandria court January 2 and wanted to be in the United States for his ongoing legal proceedings.

France opened Moussaoui file in 1994 
FindLaw: Read the full indictment  (PDF)
Attack on America
Zacarias Moussaoui was indicted on six counts:
1) Conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism

2) Conspiracy to commit air piracy

3) Conspiracy to destroy aircraft

4) Conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction

5) Conspiracy to commit murder

6) Conspiracy to destroy property

"We are here to try to have a meeting with Mr. Moussaoui and to work with Moussaoui's lawyers to prepare his defense," Francois Roux, her attorney, told reporters.

"We don't say he is innocent. We say we would like that he has an equitable trial," Roux said.

The attorney said that if it is determined that Moussaoui is "guilty, we don't want the death penalty. This is our position."

The French government has said it will object to exposing Moussaoui to the death penalty, but French officials conceded there is little they can do but object.

The mother and Roux planned to work with the suspect's American attorneys.

Moussaoui was arrested in Minnesota on immigration charges a month before the September 11 attacks after he aroused suspicion by trying to buy time on a jumbo jet flight simulator at a flight school.

El Wafi said she received a letter from her son in October in which he said he was innocent.

El Wafi, who was very emotional during the news conference, said that in the letter Zacarias told her, "Mama, I did not do anything. I can prove I did nothing. They have no proof."

El Wafi and Roux also planned to set up an appointment Friday with the French Embassy. Her son has refused any assistance from the embassy. Moussaoui was being held at an undisclosed location in Virginia.

U.S. officials said much of the information that led to Moussaoui's arrest was provided by French intelligence officials.

Zacarias Moussaoui is scheduled to be arraigned January 2.  

El Wafi, who spoke French at the news conference, said she was concerned that her son does not speak any English and cannot understand the charges against him.

She questioned whether he could get a fair trial in the United States and preferred that he be tried in France.

"I think it's better because he's French, he was born in France, he speaks in French, he was educated in France. I prefer he get his legal papers in French so he can understand why he's being accused," El Wafi said.

Roux said of the emotional, tearful El Wafi: "She's tired by a long trip and a long day."




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