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Home / World / Mounir el-Motassadeq, convicted of his role in 9/11 attacks, is a free man after being deported to Germany

Mounir el-Motassadeq, convicted of his role in 9/11 attacks, is a free man after being deported to Germany



One of the only two people condemned and convicted in connection with the September 1

1 terrorist attacks is again a free man – and returns to his native Morocco.

Mounir el-Motassadeq arrived in Frankfurt more than a decade after being sentenced more than ten years ago because he was a member of a terrorist organization and aiding the killing of 246 passengers and crew of the four jet fighters deployed in the attacks.

"It's a good feeling to know that Mr. Motassadeq is out of the country," said Hamburg's Interior Minister Andy Grote to the Associated Press.

El-Motassadeq was released shortly before his 15-year sentence, on the condition that he agrees to deportation to Morocco

"With this measure, we can arrest him immediately when he enters German soil again," said the Spokeswoman for the Federal Prosecutor, Frauke Köhler, told Deutsche Welle.

It is not clear what awaited the 44-year-old when he l ands in Morocco

  The Moroccan Mounir el-Motassadeq waits before his trial before a court in Hamburg

The Moroccan Mounir el-Motassadeq is waiting before his trial in a court in Hamburg.
(AP)

The only other person convicted in connection with 9/11 – co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui – has been serving a life sentence without parole in Colorado's ADX Florence, the same institution as the Bostoner Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and other al Qaeda activists such as "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid.

Other men involved in the planning of the attacks got stuck in a legal cot, which increasingly frustrated the families of the victims

In the case of el-Motassadeq, German courts had ruled that he knew Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, three of the September 11 hijackers, were planning to take over and destroy the aircraft, and he might not have known the details of the plot.

They said, according to the Associated Press, that El-Motassadeq had helped "watch and hide the backs of attackers" by helping them maintain the semblance of college students retraining and renting and handing over money

El -Motassadeq confirmed training in an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, but had insisted that he knew nothing of his friends' plans to attack the US

"I swear to God that I was the aggressor in America" he had called in accented German at a hearing. "I swear to God that I did not know what they wanted to do."

  A helicopter carrying Mounir el-Motassadeq leaves prison in Hamburg.

A helicopter with Mounir el-Motassadeq starts from the prison in Hamburg.

SEPTEMBER 11 PLOTTERS: WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

Originally arrested in Hamburg in November 2001, el-Motassadeq was convicted of membership in a terrorist organization and thousands of murder charges in 2003. He became the first person to be convicted of 9/11 charges. He was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison.

However, a federal court overturned that verdict in 2004, largely because of a lack of evidence of Al Qaeda suspects in US custody, and sent the case back to Hamburg.

Following a retrial in 2005, el-Motassadeq was again convicted of membership in a terrorist organization. But he was acquitted of being an accessory to the murder after the court ruled that there was not enough evidence that he knew about the kidnapper's plan.

El-Motassadeq was sentenced to seven years in prison at that time, but released in early 2006 until his appointment was heard, according to the Associated Pres.

Later that year, the federal court overturned the acquittal of El-Motassadeq over allegations of murder allegations by the Hamburg court and ruled that the evidence showed that he knew the plotter planned to hijack and overthrow planes. However, it limited the number of counts to the 246 people killed on board the aircraft, and the 15-year prison sentence was restored.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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