Victims’ Family Members Testify to Have Moussaoui’s Life Spared
In April 2006, thirteen 9/11 family members testified for the defense in opposition to the death penalty in Zaccarius Moussaoui’s trial in Alexandria, VA. The majority of them were members of Peaceful Tomorrows.
Federal officials revealed today that they have no evidence that “shoebomber” Richard Reid was told to fly a jet into the White House on Sept. 11, 2001, under the command of Zacarias Moussaoui, as Moussaoui testified in his death penalty trial.
The acknowledgement came in a document read into the record this morning by Moussaoui’s defense lawyers. Prosecutors worked with the defense in preparing the document, which is called a stipulation and presented to the jury as fact.
The document said, “There is no information to indicate that Richard Reid had preknowledge of the 9/11 attacks or was instructed by al-Qaeda leadership to conduct an operation in coordination with Moussaoui.” The document pointed out that Reid had left his possessions to Moussaoui in his will before Reid mounted a separate attack in December 2001 in which he tried to blow up a transatlantic flight with a bomb in his shoe.
“In the opinion of the FBI,” the document said “if Reid was to be part of the same martyrdom operation as Moussaoui, it is unlikely he would have bequeathed his possessions to Moussaoui.”
The document, read to the jury by defense lawyer Alan Yamamoto, concluded that according to two FBI analysts “it is highly unlikely” that Reid was to be part of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
The development casts significant doubt on the story Moussaoui told jurors late last month when he said he had been planning to fly a fifth hijacked plane into the White House on Sept. 11 and Reid was to be part of his crew. Moussaoui’s lawyers have told the jury that he was exaggerating his role, while prosecutors have said he was telling the truth.
Moussaoui pleaded guilty last year to conspiring with al-Qaeda in the Sept. 11 plot and the jury in the federal courthouse in Alexandria is now deciding if he should be executed.
Moussaoui’s lawyers had tried to call Reid to the stand to discredit Moussaoui’s story, but U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema last week vacated her earlier order that required the government to produce Reid for Moussaoui’s trial. Sources said at the time that prosecution and defense attorneys were trying to work out an agreement to tell the jury what Reid would have said if he testified partly because of the expense and security concerns if they moved him to Alexandria.
Reid is serving a life prison term for the attempted shoe bombing.
When Moussaoui testified again last week, prosecutors apparently attempted to blunt the impact of the document that was revealed today. Moussaoui testified that he and Reid were good friends and prosecutors asked him if they ever discussed the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Never,” Moussaoui said, adding that a senior al-Qaeda official had told Moussaoui that “Reid was part of the team. I was in charge, he was my second. He did not have a single clue about the operation. . . . They told me not to say anything to him.”
The document was revealed after the jury heard again today from family members of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks who are testifying for the defense in its efforts to have Moussaoui’s life spared.
The witnesses, barred from speaking for or against execution, instead provided remembrances of their loved ones in what amounted to a series of moving memorials about how they lived rather than how they died.
Jennifer Glick, a sister of Jeremy Glick, who was aboard the commandeered flight that went down in Pennsylvania, said she was in Brooklyn on Sept. 11 and could see the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center ablaze after being hit by jetliners.
She recalled how Glick had called his wife from the plane and joked that he was going to use his breakfast butter-knife to take back Flight 93.
She told the jurors that her brother was a leader of his family, with a great interest in fitness and athletics, and how the family has preserved his memory by setting up a program, called “Jeremy’s Heroes,” to aid young people in physical education, here and abroad.
“The people aboard Flight 93 became the symbol of people who fought back and didn’t let the hijackers accomplish their goal,” she said.
Asked by a defense attorney how she wanted her brother to be remembered, Jennifer Glick said, “I’d like us to celebrate his life, to remember the goodness that he showed, that we all have inside us.”
Moussaoui pleaded guilty last year to conspiring with al-Qaeda in the attacks, although he did not participate in them. The federal jury is considering whether he should be executed, in a process that allows testimony about aggravating and mitigating circumstances as well as “victim impact” statements from each side.
Adele Welty, the mother of a firefighter, Timothy M. Welty, who died in the rescue operations on Sept. 11, took the stand next. She too recalled her son’s life with affection, saying that he was a wonderful father to two children and a wonderful son, who spent his free time renovating his mother’s house.
“I want him to be remembered as a very loving man,” she said, “not just a statistic, as someone who lived his life to the fullest every day.”
She recalled that her son was actually going off duty when the attacks occurred but jumped on a fire truck to respond.
Six more family members are expected to testify today.
Then government prosecutors intend to call mental health experts to rebut defense testimony portraying Moussaoui as deranged and therefore not a candidate for the death penalty.
About three dozen surviving family members testified for the prosecution.
� 2006 The Washington Post Company