Germany has granted one of only two men convicted of orchestrating the 9/11 attack his release from prison.
According to the New York Post, Mounir el-Motassadeq was found guilty in 2003 of belonging to a terrorist group and was convicted of accessory to murder in the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people in 2001.
Motassadeq was found to have aided three major hijackers in the “Hamburg Cell”, including 9/11 attack ringleader Mohamed Atta, the hijacker-pilot who flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Motassadeq was also convicted of helping Marwan al-Shehhi, hijacker-pilot of United Airlines Flight 175, who flew the plane into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Motassadeq also aided Zied Jarrah, who led the team that hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 in another terrorist attempt, but was thwarted from his ultimate mission when passengers took control of the plane and it crashed into a Pennsylvania field.
Motassadeq paid for the terrorists’ tuition and rent so that they could plan the attacks while in Hamburg, Germany.
However, in 2004, a federal court overturned Motassadeq’s verdict, citing a lack of evidence, and sent his case back to Hamburg.
In a 2005 retrial, he was again found guilty of being a member of a terrorist organization, but he was acquitted of accessory to murder charges because the court couldn’t find that there was enough evidence to show that he knew the hijackers’ plans. He was sentenced to seven years, but freed again in 2006 for an appeal.
Later in 2006, the federal court found evidence that proved he knew about the plans for the terrorist attacks. The court reversed the acquittal of Motassadeq’s accessory to murder charges, but limited his guilt to the 246 killed aboard the flights, not giving him any responsibility for those who were killed on the ground.
Motassadeq was sentenced to just 15 years in 2006, but thanks to being granted credit for the time he served since being jailed in November 2001, he is now a free man. He was released on Monday and was deported back to his family in his home country of Morocco.
"Man convicted of helping 9/11 terrorists is all smiles after early release.
Me: Germany's justice system sentenced the terrorist to a mere 15 years. Germany's justice needs to be reformed. Mounir el Motassadeq should have been incarcerated for life.https://t.co/9yB7qrzlm9
— Benjamin Weinthal (@BenWeinthal) October 16, 2018
One of the most outspoken of the 9/11 families advocates was outraged by the release.
Debra Burlingame is the sister of Charles Burlingame III, who was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked after taking off from Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, and flown into the Pentagon.
She called the handling of Motassadeq by the German court system “pure bunk.”
“He was found guilty of 246 counts of accessory to murder — one for each of the passengers who died on all the four hijacked flights that day,” Burlingame told the Boston Herald.
“It’s shocking he only got 15 years and this sends the message the cost of human life is cheap in Germany.”
No amount of good behavior in prison should be able to absolve someone who was an accomplice in the murders of thousands of innocent people. Motassadeq already got an incredibly low and painless sentence when seen in the light of the atrocities he aided, but Germany giving him an early release sends an even stronger message that their courts aren’t interested in justice.
Burlingame warned that “if you don’t learn the lessons of history, then it will repeat” and that Motassadeq being freed is “cowardly.”
“It’s human nature to forget, but we need to stay vigilant,” she said. “Europe is sitting on its hands. They don’t want to look politically incorrect. They are willing to let their own children die to show how virtuous they are. It’s foolish.”
The only other man convicted in the terrorist atrocity that sparked the war on terror as it’s being fought today was Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker.” He is serving a life sentence at the federal maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado, according to CNN.
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