Al Qaeda, Penny-Pinchers?

New details on al Qaeda's operations reveal the terrorist group to be an apparently budget-conscious organization that closely tracks payments and members.

The details -- including information about al Qaeda's accounting practices, cash allowances and even an organization phone directory -- emerged today from a transcript of a hearing for Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi, the Guantanamo prisoner alleged to be a financial facilitator of the 9/11 attacks.

On Sept. 8 and 9, 2001, days before al Qaeda operatives flew jumbo jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Mohammad Atta was apparently sending money back to al Qaeda that was no longer needed for the attack, according to the hearing's transcript released today by the Pentagon.

The March 21 Combatant Status Review Tribunal proceeding was held at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to determine whether Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi is an "enemy combatant."

Hawsawi's computer revealed a wealth of information, according to the charges against him, including detailed allowance and expense accounts for al Qaeda, information on the families of 22 Yemeni al Qaeda agents, a list of wounded or slain al Qaeda members, a list of family allowances for al Qaeda members and banking information.

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The detainee said he did not know all of the information was on his laptop. He said he and others consolidated records from multiple laptops while operating in a safe house.

According to the charges read out in court, Hawsawi was captured with a handwritten 19-page handwritten telephone book that contained the names of several al Qaeda operatives, according to military evidence that was presented to Hawsawi but not publicly released.

He said it could not have been his because he doesn't have enough friends to fill 19 pages.

The evidence used against Hawsawi is largely Western Union receipts for money sent from the United Arab Emirates. Asked if he received $17,860 from 9/11 hijackers Mohamed Atta and Waleed al Shehri in four separate transactions sent from Laurel, Md., and Boston, where Atta boarded one of the planes used in the attack, Hawsawi said simply, "Yes."

He said he deposited the money in a United Arab Emirates bank.

"I don't know why," he said when asked why the hijackers sent him the money.

Hawsawi denied being a member of al Qaeda, but he acknowledged that he carried a weapon and aided "jihadists" in Afghanistan.

One panel member asked why, if he was not a member of al Qaeda, Hawsawi had so many contacts with al Qaeda operatives. His response was almost disarming in its honesty. "I help all the jihadists," he said.

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