"I Love Him No Matter What"

Time Magazine/April 1, 2006
By Bruce Crumley

After an antic-filled sentencing trial in which 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui mocked terrorism victims and issued calls to jihad, his fate goes to a jury this week. Will he spend the rest of his life in prison, or will he be put to death? His mother Aicha el-Wafi told TIME's Bruce Crumley about her son and her anguish.

How do you feel about the extreme things your son said in court? It was atrocious. I plugged my ears and closed my eyes. I felt terrible for the people who lost their loved ones in the attacks. It also proved a personal blow to me: I could see him digging his own grave each time he said such things. It was hard to look at him afterward.

He appears to have become more radical since his arrest. Which perhaps isn't surprising. He joined an extremist sect. He underwent a kind of brainwashing. And he's faced hard conditions in isolation for years. Maybe it's like someone who feels they are in the middle of the sea: they hold even tighter to the buoy that got them there.

What do you want to say to people who are following the trial? The families of the victims of Sept. 11 and all of America deserve justice. But the deep injustice of this trial is that he's being judged for the things he says and believes but not for his involvement in the attacks. I spoke with and even stayed in the homes of families who lost loved ones in the attacks. Do you know what they said? While they were disgusted with things Zacarias has said, they too thought this trial was a farce.

If he is sentenced to die, will you visit him before his execution? Of course, I'd need to see him, speak with him. He's my son, and I love him no matter what.

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