U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft on Tuesday announced the first indictment concerning September 11 terrorist attacks which killed over 3,000 people.
Ashcroft said a French Moroccan was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy in the September 11 attacks. The suspect, Zacarias Moussaoui, had raised investigators' suspicions by seeking flight lessons in Minnesota a month before the hijackings.
The indictment, issued by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, charged Moussaoui "with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to murder thousands of innocent people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11."
Ashcroft said the 30-page indictment lists six counts against Moussaoui, four of them punishable by death if he is convicted. The counts were conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, to commit aircraft piracy, to destroy aircraft, to use weapons of mass destruction, murder and conspiracy to destroy property.
The indictment said Moussaoui was trained in the al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and received funds from sources in the Middle East and Germany.
Moussaoui, who was detained in Minnesota in August on immigration charges. After the September 11 attacks, Moussaoui has been held as a material witness in the investigation of the terrorist attacks.
"Today, three months after the assault on our homeland, the United States of America has brought the awesome weight of justice against the terrorists who brutally murdered innocent Americans," Ashcroft said.
The attorney general called the indictment "an important step in securing justice for the victims of Sept. 11."