The mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only terrorist convicted over 9/11 attacks, says the racism her son suffered in France helped turn him to extremism.
Moussaoui was jailed for life for plotting with the other al-Qaeda members to fly airliners into the twin towers, but did not take part in the attacks after the terrorists leadership had doubts about his reliability.
His mother, Aicha el-Wafi, said the seeds for the attacks were planted when her son was abused for his races as a teenager in France.
She said he suffered daily racism when he lived with her in the city of Narbonne, southern France, where he was born after his parents emmigrated from Morocco.
She said he was called a ‘dirty Arab and dirty negro’
‘These are words that kill a child when he is 16, 18, 19 years of age,’ Miss el-Waifi told CNN.
‘My son was born in France, my son loves France … but he was not accepted. He was rejected by French society.’
‘He loved a girl he was forbidden from seeing… well the Islamists and the extremists found a grievance in the heart of my son.’
She accepts that her son became an extremist but still maintains he had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
He was jailed for life for criminal conspiracy after being arrested in Minnesota after staff at a flying school where he took lessons reported he was behaving suspiciously.
He told his trial in Virginia that he had been due to pilot an airliner into the White House with Richard Reid, the terrorist who tried to blow up an airliner with explosives in his shoe.
A jury sentenced him to life in the Federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
When he was found guilty he shouted:’You will not get my blood!’
Moussaoui’s father had beaten their mother until he left the family in 1972. After that, his mother says they lived a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.
He moved to London after studying business in Montpellier and took a master’s at the British capital’s South Bank University.
There, Moussaoui became increasingly radical, growing a beard an taking a series of trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chechnya in the late 1990s.
When he arrived in the US he began taking flying lessons in Oklahamo, paid for with money wired to him from the same Al-Qaeda source that supported the cell of 9/11 leader Mohammed Atta.
But terrorist masterminds allegedly dropped him from the plot after terrorist leaders had doubts about his abilities.
Regardless of what lead to him becoming a terrorist, should he be viewed differently for his actions? I think not, and maybe one day we will stop trying to find excuses for people’s actions and will instead start punishing them for the things they have done.