ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AP) – The only man convicted in a US court for a role in the 9/11 attacks now says he is renouncing terrorism, al Qaeda and Islamic State.
Zacarias Moussaoui is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Colorado after narrowly escaping the death penalty in his 2006 trial.
At times, he was known as the 20th missing hijacker and, although he was clearly a member of Al Qaeda, there is little evidence that he hijacked a plane on September 11, 2001. Instead, prosecutors attributed the responsibility to Moussaoui because they said he could have prevented the attacks if he had not lied to the FBI about his knowledge of Al Qaeda and his efforts to attack the United States when he was arrested in August 2001.
In a handwritten motion from the court, Moussaoui filed with the federal court in Alexandria last month, Moussaoui wrote: “I denounce, we reject Usama bin Laden as a useful idiot for the CIA / Saudi Arabia. I also unequivocally proclaim my opposition to any terrorist action, attack, propaganda against the USA ”
He also said that he wants to "warn young Muslims against the deception and manipulation of these false Jihadists".
His statements are a far cry from the 2006 trial, when he claimed victims and displayed a victory sign after a jury chose to send him to life in prison instead of executing him. At the final hearing of the sentence, he said to the judge, "God save Osama bin Laden, you will never get him."
Bin Laden was killed in an attack by American forces on a complex in Pakistan in 2011.
Moussaoui resigned in a petition calling for relaxation of the special administrative measures under which he serves his sentence. In particular, he says he wants Rudy Giuliani or Alan Dershowitz to represent him as a lawyer, so that he can testify in a civil trial brought by victims of the 9/11 attacks. The prison documents submitted with his motion indicate that he received a response of some kind to a letter he wrote to the American Civil Liberties Union, but was not allowed to see it because it was marked as a privileged legal communication, and he only can receive mail. if the prison can open and read.
Moussaoui has a long history of writing letters to the court – in fact, he served as his own lawyer for several years before the trial and regularly wrote legal motions referring to himself as "Slave to Allah", a name he continues to use .
He wrote numerous letters seeking to testify at the 9/11 civilian trial and the military trials of members of Al Qaeda, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But those requests did not include the explicit waiver of terrorism that he includes in his most recent letter. In 2018, he continued to refer to himself as a “born terrorist” in court documents. In another handwritten motion that year, he concluded his motion with "God Curse Ugly Satan of Abomination" in large letters.
Katherine Donahue, professor of anthropology at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, who wrote a book about Moussaoui called "Slave of Allah" after participating in her 2006 trial, said she was unaware of any other example in which Moussaoui had renounced terrorism or bin Laden. She said she expects him to be sincere, although he admitted at his trial that he lied to the FBI after his arrest.
“He's been there for 14 years. It is a long time to think about what you have done, ”she said. I don't see him lying. … There were so many ways in which he could have helped himself by lying before ”, but he didn't.
Terry Strada, whose husband died in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and is one of the plaintiffs who sue Saudi Arabia for his alleged complicity in the attacks, was more skeptical.
"I don't trust him, that he retired from prison," she said. "I wouldn't trust him in anyone's youth."
Lawyers representing the 9/11 plaintiffs did not return calls and emails asking for comment, nor did Giuliani or Dershowitz.
US District Judge Leonie Brinkema, who presided over the Moussaoui trial and was regularly subjected to Moussaoui's insults in court documents, denied his request and said that any complaints he has about the treatment he is receiving in prison should be registered in Colorado , where it resides.
"Raising these issues with this Court is an act of futility," wrote Brinkema.
Moussaoui appealed the denial to the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.