An Interview with Zacarias Moussaoui’s Mother As the Justice Department Announces It Will Seek the Death Penalty for the Accused Hijacker

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The Justice Department recently announced that it would seek the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui, the French citizen accused of being the “20th hijacker” in the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Moussaoui was nowhere near the crime scene on September 11th, but prosecutors believe he would have been had he not been in prison. Moussoui was arrested on immigration charges in the middle of August, just weeks before the attacks. He was only later linked to al Qaeda and accused of being a so-called “terrorist”.

The 33-year-old Moussaoui, entered the United States in February of 2001 and immediately began trying to learn to fly. According to the FBI, he flunked out of flight school in Norman, Okla., and moved on to the Pan Am International Flying Academy in Minnesota., where he paid $8,000 to use flight simulators designed to train commercial pilots. His instructors became suspicious, and the school called the FBI, which detained Moussaoui on Aug. 17 on immigration charges.

At the time of his arrest FBI agents say they found flight manuals for the Boeing 747-400, a flight-simulator computer program, binoculars, two knives, fighting shields and a laptop computer. They say they later learned that French intelligence officials suspected Moussaoui of involvement with Islamic extremists.

Moussaoui is the only person so far to stand trial for the September 11th attacks. He will be tried on these charges in Virginia this September.

News that the US will seek the death penalty for Moussaoui has sparked outrage in France. The country’s Justice Minister has said that it will not turn over evidence that could lead to a death sentence, and it will oppose the death penalty if Moussaoui is convicted. Like other European nations, France abolished capital punishment years go.

Well, several days ago, Democracy Now! did one of the first interviews with the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui at her home in France. It was her first conversation with an American reporter since the Justice Department announced that it would seek the death penalty for her son. We continue now with that interview with Aicha El-Wafa. We pick up with her as she describes her reaction to the news that her son could be sentenced to death.


  • Aicha El Wafi, mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the French citizen accused of being the 20th hijacker in the September 11 attacks.


  • Sputnik Kilambi, reporter for Free Speech Radio News.

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