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Saturday, 14 September, 2002, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Mother fears al-Qaeda 'scapegoating'
Zacarias Moussaoui
Mr Moussaoui is the only suspect arrested in the US
The mother of Zacarias Moussaoui - the only man charged in the US in connection with the 11 September attacks - says she fears her son may not receive a fair trial.

Aicha al-Wafi told the BBC that she was convinced that her son had nothing to do with the extremists who hijacked four planes and deliberately crashed them into buildings, killing more than 3,000 people.


I know for sure - and he's told me himself - that he had nothing to do with 11 September

Aicha al-Wafi, suspect's mother
But the desire to find and punish a culprit could make him a scapegoat, she said.

Mr Moussaoui has been accused of being the "20th hijacker", who would have joined the 19 other attackers who commandeered the planes, if he had not been arrested earlier for immigration violations.

He has been charged with six counts of conspiracy, four of which carry the death penalty.

Though Mr Moussaoui, 34, has admitted being a member of al-Qaeda, he has denied involvement in the attacks and his mother said violence was not in his nature.

'Fighter for Islam'

"My son admits he's a fighter for Islam - he doesn't hide it - but he didn't commit an act of terrorism, I'm sure of that," Mrs Wafi said from her home in Narbonne, southern France.

"You can be a fighter and be a pacifist and fight with words."

Aicha al-Wafi
Aicha al-Wafi believes her son used only words in his fight for Islam
She said she knew nothing of any connection between her son - whom she had not seen for four years before the 11 September attacks - and extremists.

But she was reassured by a letter she received last October in which her son wrote: "Mum, don't worry, I didn't do anything".

She told the BBC's Today Programme: "He's accused of being involved in terrorism, a terrorist movement, but I know for sure - and he's told me himself - that he had nothing to do with 11 September."

Mrs Wafi said she was concerned about the health of her son and condemned the conditions under which he was being held.

'Don't judge'

She feared that because her son has been the only person arrested in the US in connection with the attacks, he may not get a fair trial.

"I hope the Americans and the judges and the media open their eyes and don't judge somebody who had nothing to do with it," she said.

"I don't want my son to be a scapegoat."

Mr Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan origin, has been in detention since he was arrested last summer after arousing suspicion at a flight school in Minnesota.

On Friday, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled in favour of his defence lawyers and barred the playing of a cockpit tape from one of the hijacked planes.

She said the recording would prejudice the case unfairly and appeared to be of marginal value.


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See also:

16 Aug 02 | Americas
25 Jul 02 | Americas
19 Jul 02 | Americas
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