Expatica news

Mzoudi – signed 9/11 hijacker’s will

5 February 2005

HAMBURG – In the wake of the September 11 attacks, attention quickly focused on an apartment in the harbour district of Hamburg where the hijackers had lived and apparently plotted the deadly attacks.

Among the hangers-on in that close circle of friends who used the flat in the Marienstrasse as a base of operations was Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi.

He was a close friend of the purported ringleader of the group, al-Qaeda hijacker Mohammed Atta, who steered a plane into one of the towers of the World Trade Center on that fateful September day.

So close were Mzoudi and Atta that Mzoudi signed Atta’s last will and testament before he left for the U.S. and his perceived rendezvous with destiny.

The 31-year-old Moroccan claims he moved to Germany 1993, settling first in Bochum where he learned German. He moved to Hamburg to study electronics and mathematics at a technical school.

Mzoudi actually lived at the now-infamous apartment at 54 Marienstrasse, the focal point of the Hamburg terrorist cell. There, he was friends not only with Atta but also with another man who later sat at the controls of a hijacked plane on 11 September – Marwan Alshehhi.

More than a year after the attacks, Mzoudi was arrested on 10 October 2002 and charged with being an accomplice to the deaths of the more than 3,000 persons in the attacks.

It was the second such case in Germany, the first ending in the conviction of another Moroccan, Mounir El-Motassadeq in February 2003.

This time around, however, the defence insisted on Mzoudi remaining silent during the proceedings, since Motassadeq’s testimony had been seen as inadvertently damning.

Instead, Mzoudi spoke in court only about his childhood. He grew up with three sisters and two brothers in Morocco. At the age of five he began to read and study the Koran, and when he was 7 his father took him to a mosque for the first time.

The prosecution called Mzoudi the logistician of the 9/11 plot, claiming he offered his address as a cover for the terrorists during their stints in the US or their attendance at training camps in Afghanistan.

Mzoudi’s defence argued that the Marienstrasse was just a normal student apartment, where young male students came and went depending on their semester course loads.

In fact, Mzoudi was in Afghanistan himself in 2000. Motassadeq had testified to seeing Mzoudi at an al-Qaeda training camp there.

Witnesses offered often contradictory views of Mzoudi’s role in the terrorist cell. Some said he was just an innocent bystander. Others said he was an integral member.

Then came surprise testimony from German intelligence head Heinz Fromm, which proved the turning point in the case. He said intelligence agents now believed the 9/11 attacks were not conceived and planned in Hamburg. Instead, they were the brainchild of Osama Bin Laden himself in Afghanistan, it was said.

Through it all, Mzoudi sat sphinx-like at the defence bench, seldom showing emotion, often jotting things down in a notebook. In the end, he did not even make a final statement.


Subject: German news