ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The only man ever convicted in a U.S. court for a role in the Sept. 11 attacks now says he is renouncing terrorism, al-Qaida and the Islamic State.
Zacarias Moussaoui is serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Colorado after narrowly escaping the death penalty at his 2006 trial.
He was sometimes referred to as the missing 20th hijacker, and while he was clearly a member of al-Qaida there is scant evidence to suggest he was slated to hijack a plane on Sept. 11, 2001. Instead, prosecutors pinned responsibility on Moussaoui because they said he could have prevented the attacks if he had not lied to the FBI about his knowledge of al-Qaida and its efforts to attack the U.S. when he was arrested in August 2001.
In a handwritten court motion Moussaoui filed with the federal court in Alexandria last month, Moussaoui wrote, “I denounce, repudiate Usama bin Laden as a useful idiot of the CIA/Saudi. I also proclaim unequivocally my opposition to any terrorist action, attack, propaganda against the U.S.”
He also said he wants “to warn young Muslim against the deception and the manipulation of these fake Jihadis.”
His remarks are a far cry from his 2006 trial, when he taunted victims and flashed a victory sign after a jury opted to send him to prison for life rather than execute him. At his final sentencing hearing, he told the judge “God save Osama bin Laden you will never get him."
Bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. forces on a compound in Pakistan in 2011.
Moussaoui made his renunciation in a petition seeking relaxation of the special administrative measures under which he serves his sentence. In particular, he says he wants either Rudy Giuliani or Alan Dershowitz to represent him as a lawyer, so he can testify in a civil trial filed by victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Prison documents filed with his motion indicate 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 privileged legal communication, and he is only allowed to receive the mail if the prison can can open and read it.