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Moussaoui Hearing Offers Two Views of Sept. 11 Role

Courtroom rendering of avowed al Qaeda follower Zacarias Moussaoui (L) during opening statements of the sentencing phase of his trial on Monday.
Art Lein
/
AFP/Getty Images
Courtroom rendering of avowed al Qaeda follower Zacarias Moussaoui (L) during opening statements of the sentencing phase of his trial on Monday.

In opening statements in the sentencing phase of Zacarias Moussaoui's terrorism trial, the prosecution says he failed to alert authorities to the Sept. 11 attacks and deserves the death penalty. Moussaoui's defense lawyers contend their client did not know what was planned for Sept. 11.

Moussaoui pleaded guilty in April to conspiring with al Qaeda to hijack planes and commit other crimes. The trial will simply determine Moussaoui's punishment, and only two options are available: death or life in prison.

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Laura Sullivan is an NPR News investigative correspondent whose work has cast a light on some of the country's most significant issues.