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Convicted 9/11 Terrorist: Saudi Royals Funded Al Qaeda, Plan Discussed to Shoot Down Air Force One

"focused and thoughtful"

Zacarias Moussaoui (Image source: AP/Sherburne County, Minn., Sheriff's Office, File)

A convicted 9/11 terrorist testified that members of the Saudi Royal family funded Al Qaeda in the late 1990s and also alleged that he discussed a plan to shoot down Air Force One with a Saudi Embassy staffer in Washington, D.C., the New York Times reported.

Zacarias Moussaoui (Image source: AP/Sherburne County, Minn., Sheriff's Office, File) Zacarias Moussaoui (Image source: AP/Sherburne County, Minn., Sheriff's Office, File)

Zacarias Moussaoui gave testimony to lawyers who questioned him for two days last fall inside the federal supermax prison in Colorado as part of a federal lawsuit against Saudi Arabia filed by relatives of those killed in 9/11, the Times said.

There have been questions regarding Moussaoui's mental competence, with the Saudi Embassy stating Monday night that "(h)is words have no credibility" and that he's a "deranged criminal whose own lawyers presented evidence that he was mentally incompetent." The embassy added that the national Sept. 11 commission rejected claims that Saudi officials funded Al Qaeda.

However he was found competent to stand trial on terrorism charges, for which he was sentenced to life in prison in 2006.

But Sean P. Carter, a lawyer who participated in the Moussaoui deposition last fall, told the Times he appeared "focused and thoughtful" and "of completely sound mind." More than 100 pages of testimony was filed in federal court in New York on Monday.

More from the Times:

He said in the prison deposition that he was directed in 1998 or 1999 by Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan to create a digital database of donors to the group. Among those he said he recalled listing in the database were Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor; and many of the country’s leading clerics.

“Sheikh Osama wanted to keep a record who give money,” he said in imperfect English — “who is to be listened to or who contributed to the jihad.”

Mr. Moussaoui said he acted as a courier for Bin Laden, carrying personal messages to prominent Saudi princes and clerics. And he described his training in Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.

He helped conduct a trial explosion of a 750-kilogram bomb as a trial run for a planned truck-bomb attack on the American Embassy in London, he said, using the same weapon used in the Qaeda attacks in 1998 on the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He also studied the possibility of staging attacks with crop-dusting aircraft.

Read the full New York Times article here.

(H/T: New York Times)

Follow Dave Urbanski (@DaveVUrbanski) on Twitter

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