Zacarias Moussaoui is serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Colorado after narrowly escaping the death penalty at his 2006 trial.
Prosecutors argued that he could have prevented the attacks if he had not lied to the FBI about his knowledge of al-Qaida and its efforts to attack the US when he was arrested in August 2001.
In a handwritten court motion Moussaoui filed with the federal court in Alexandria last month, Moussaoui wrote: “I denounce, repudiate Osama bin Laden as a useful idiot of the CIA/Saudi. I also proclaim unequivocally my opposition to any terrorist action, attack, propaganda against the US.”
He also said he wanted “to warn young Muslim against the deception and the manipulation of these fake jihadis”.
His remarks are a far cry from his 2006 trial, when he taunted victims and flashed a victory sign after a jury opted to send him to prison for life rather than execute him.
At his final sentencing hearing, he said “God save Osama bin Laden.” Bin Laden was killed in a raid by US forces on a compound in Pakistan in 2011.
Moussaoui made his renunciation in a petition seeking relaxation of the conditions under which he serves his sentence. In particular, he says he wants either Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani or Alan Dershowitz to represent him as a lawyer, so he can testify in a civil trial filed by victims of the 9/11 attacks.
He has written numerous letters seeking to testify at the 9/11 civil trial, and at the military trials of al-Qaida members including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
But as recently as 2018, he continued to refer to himself as a “natural born terrorist“ in court papers. In another handwritten motion that year, he concluded his motion with “God Curse Ugly Satan of Abomination” in huge letters.
Katherine Donahue, who wrote a book about Moussaoui after attending his 2006 trial, said she was unaware of any other instance in which he had renounced terrorism or Bin Laden.
“He’s been [in prison] 14 years. It’s a long time to think about what you’ve done,” she said. “I don’t see him lying. There were so many ways he could have helped himself before by lying” – but she said he didn’t.
Terry Strada, whose husband died in the attack on the World Trade Center and is one of the plaintiffs suing Saudi Arabia for its alleged complicity in the attacks, was more skeptical.
“I don’t trust him, that he’s reformed himself in prison,” she said. “I wouldn’t trust him around anybody’s youth.”
US district Judge Leonie Brinkema, who presided over Moussaoui’s trial and was regularly subjected to Moussaoui’s insults in court papers, denied his request and said any grievance he has about the treatment he is receiving in prison should be filed in Colorado, where he resides.
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