An imprisoned man known as the would-be “20th hijacker” in the 9/11 terror attacks asked a South Florida federal judge Wednesday for a transfer to the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where several alleged senior terror plotters are awaiting trial.
The request is part of two rambling, handwritten letters filed in Miami federal court by Zacarias Moussaoui. He is serving a life prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2005 to conspiring with the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Moussaoui signed one letter as the “so-call 20th hijacker” and a “Slave to Allah.”
Moussaoui, 46, has been writing letters to courts around the country from his maximum-security prison cell in Florence, Colorado, claiming inside knowledge about al-Qaida and the Sept. 11 plot, and seeking a chance to testify in lawsuits filed by terrorism victims.
The letters filed in Miami repeat some of those claims. Moussaoui wants the transfer to Guantánamo, he says, because he has been assaulted and harassed by other inmates and guards at the Florence “Supermax” prison – including Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
He even contends there was a prison plot to kill him and “claim that I committed suicide,” but that failed.
“So no suicide, Victory by Allah,” Moussaoui wrote.
U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said the agency could not comment on the allegations.
Five former CIA detainees at Guantánamo are awaiting trial before a military commission in the 9/11 attacks, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, as well as the alleged orchestrator of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri.
Moussaoui also makes other demands, asking Senior U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King to order prison doctors to perform a long-delayed hernia operation and that he appoint civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump and Anthony Gray to represent him. Crump and Gray recently represented the family of Michael Brown in the Ferguson police shooting.
“I am currently on a hunger strike in order to have a lawyer since 11/09/14,” Moussaoui wrote.
Moussaoui was in custody on immigration charges on Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the al-Qaida terror attacks. He had been arrested after employees at a Minnesota flight school became alarmed that he wanted to learn to fly a Boeing 747 without a pilot’s license. Later, during his terror conspiracy court case, Moussaoui claimed that he had planned to fly a plane into the White House on Sept. 11.
Other Moussaoui letters have been filed with courts in New York and Oklahoma City, the latter including an allegation that a Saudi prince provided financial assistance to him and the 19 hijackers. In his Miami letter, Moussaoui claims there is a plot to stop him from testifying about this unnamed prince, also involving fellow Saudi Yousef, in a bid to spare Mohammed the death penalty. Yousef is Mohammed’s nephew.
There were no immediate rulings on Moussaoui’s demands in the Miami letters.