Zacarias Moussaoui, only man convicted in 9/11 attacks, renounces terrorism and 'useful idiot' Osama bin Laden

Zacarias Moussaoui also said in his filing that he wants to 'warn young Muslims against the deception and the manipulation of these fake Jihadis'

                            Zacarias Moussaoui, only man convicted in 9/11 attacks, renounces terrorism and 'useful idiot' Osama bin Laden
Zacarias Moussaoui and Osama bin Laden (Sherburne County Sheriff's Office / Getty Images)

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA: The only man to be convicted in a US court for a role in the September 11, 2001, attacks that killed close to 3,000 people has now renounced terrorism, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and Osama bin Laden, a man for whom he had earlier expressed admiration openly.

According to an indictment filed at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Zacarias Moussaoui had "unlawfully, willfully and knowingly combined, conspired, confederated and agreed to kill and maim persons within the United States, and to create a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to other persons by destroying and damaging structures, conveyances, and other real and personal property."

In the subsequent trial in 2006, he had pleaded guilty to charges brought against him in connection to his role in the 9/11 attacks and was given six life sentences without parole at the Federal ADX Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. He had struck a defiant, almost gleeful, tone at the time because he had avoided the death penalty and had flashed a victory sign at the jury who had shown him mercy.

He had also taunted victims in the courtroom, according to the Associated Press, and had told the judge at his final sentencing hearing, "God save Osama bin Laden, you will never get him." He sang a different tune in a recent handwritten court motion filed with the federal court in Alexandria last month, where he said he no longer held the same beliefs he did 14 years ago and alleged that Laden was a pawn of the CIA.

Smoke pours from the twin towers of the World Trade Center after they were hit by two hijacked airliners in a terrorist attack September 11, 2001, in New York City (Robert Giroux/Getty Images)

"I denounce, repudiate Osama bin Laden as a useful idiot of the CIA/Saudi. I also proclaim unequivocally my opposition to any terrorist action, attack, propaganda against the US," he wrote, before adding that he wants to "warn young Muslims against the deception and the manipulation of these fake Jihadis." It's difficult to say whether Moussaoui's statements come from a place of self-reflection, especially considering he was sometimes referred to as the missing 20th hijacker in the terror attacks.

While prosecutors ultimately pinned responsibility on Moussaoui by saying he could have prevented the attacks if he had not lied to the FBI about his knowledge of al-Qaeda following his August 2001 arrest, there is some evidence to suggest he may have been prepping to be one of the planes. From February 26 to May 29, 2001, he attended flight training courses at Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma.

He, however, failed despite 57 hours of flying lessons and left without ever flying solo. That school was visited by Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehh, the pilots who flew the planes into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center. Then, on August 13 the same year, he paid $6,800 in $100 bills to buy a 747-100 simulator, which was used by Pan Am and is operated by Northwest Aerospace Training Corporation (NATCO), a training facility affiliated with Northwest Airlines.

But in an audio recording attributed to Osama bin Laden obtained by NBC News in May 2006, the 9/11 mastermind stated that Moussaoui had "no connection at all" with September 11. "I am the one in charge of the 19 brothers and I never assigned brother Zacarias to be with them in that mission ... Since Zacarias Moussaoui was still learning to fly, he wasn't number 20 in the group, as your government claimed," he allegedly said.

A fiery blast rocks the south tower of the World Trade Center as the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the building September 11, 2001, in New York City (Getty Images)

Morals aside, he does have an ulterior motive to his recent filing. He made the petition seeking relaxation of the special administrative measures under which he is serving his six life sentences and asked for either Rudy Giuliani or Alan Dershowitz to represent him as a lawyer so he could testify in a civil suit filed by victims of 9/11. 

He has written numerous letters seeking to testify at the 9/11 civil trial, and the military trials of al-Qaida members including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the past, but none of them have included the renunciation of terrorism. Previously, he would regularly refer to himself in legal motions phrases such as "Slave of Allah" and a "natural born terrorist," the latter of which he used as recently as 2018.

Katherine Donahue, an anthropology professor at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, who wrote a book about Moussaoui called 'Slave of Allah' after attending his trial, said she believed he was being truthful. "He's been there 14 years. It’s a long time to think about what you've done,” she shared. "I don't see him lying... There were so many ways he could have helped himself before by lying but he didn't."

However, Terry Strada, whose husband died in the World Trade Center and who is currently suing Saudi Arabia for its alleged complicity in the attacks, wasn't so sure. "I don't trust him, that he's reformed himself in prison," she said. "I wouldn't trust him around anybody's youth."

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