Skip to main content
The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!

A profile of Zacarias Moussaoui

Zacarias Moussaoui
more videoVIDEO
9/11 terror suspect Moussaoui will be allowed to plead guilty.
Supreme Court
September 11 attacks
Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- Guilty pleas related to the conspiracy behind September 11, 2001, closed a three-and-a-half-year prosecution Friday for the only person publicly charged in the United States in connection with the attacks.

Zacarias Moussaoui admitted to six counts of terrorism conspiracy in U.S. District Court. He is eligible for the death penalty, though he vowed Friday to fight such a sentence. (Full story)

Moussaoui stated in court that he belongs to al Qaeda and is loyal to Osama bin Laden, but denied having anything to do with the attacks. Friday, he tried to distance himself from the specific events of September 11, saying that nothing in the statement he signed declared he was "specifically guilty of 9-11."

Moussaoui was born May 30, 1968, in St. Jean-de-Luz near Bayonne in the Basque region of western France. He is the youngest of four children of Moroccan parents.

He was raised by his mother, Aicha el-Wafi, a postal employee in France, who divorced his father, Omar, a tiller and construction worker, when Moussaoui was 2 years old.

He has an older brother, Abd Samad, whose book, "Zacarias, My Brother," describes a growing concern by the adult Moussaoui for the conflicts in Bosnia and Chechyna, where he may have gone to fight with Muslim separatists. He has two older sisters, Nadia and Jamila.

Moussaoui spent his teenage years in Narbonne in southern France. He left home in 1986 and didn't return for a decade.

Before he came to the United States in February 2001, he lived in London, England, where he had attended Southbank University and earned a master's degree in international business. He speaks English, French and Arabic.

Investigators say he attended mosques in England with suspected al Qaeda connections. One of those mosques is where terrorist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri was prayer leader.

In 1996, French authorities began monitoring Moussaoui's activities after they noticed him with Islamic extremists. The French placed him on a watch list three years later.

In 1998, according to prosecutors, he attended a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.

Shortly after arriving in the United States, he began taking flying lessons at the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma. He left without a license, after taking over 50 hours of lessons.

The school was attended by would-be bin Laden pilots in the late 1990s and visited by September 11 hijacker-pilots Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi in 2000.

By August 2001, Moussaoui was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he bought training time on a jumbo jet simulator at a flight school.

About the same time, he allegedly received $14,000 from al Qaeda operative Ramzi Binalshibh in Germany.

School officials contacted the FBI after they grew suspicious of him when he could barely handle a small private plane.

FBI agents arrested him August 16 on charges of violating his visa.

A search of Moussaoui's belongings turned up Boeing 747 flight manuals, two knives, an aviation radio, information on aerial application of pesticides, and a notebook containing telephone numbers in Germany.

A business card found at the Pennsylvania plane crash site of United Flight 93 had a phone number on it that Moussaoui had called shortly before the attacks.

Prosecutors said the name printed on the card was that of Ziad Jarrah's uncle. Jarrah was one of the hijackers aboard Flight 93.

CNN's Phil Hirschkorn contributed to this report.

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Ex-Tyco CEO found guilty
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.