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Mother: London radicals made my son terrorist

For the rest of his life, Moussaoui will spend 23 hours of every day in a small prison cell.



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Zacarias Moussaoui
Capital Punishment
London, England

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Zacarias Moussaoui's family in France blame Islamic radicals in Britain for turning a once carefree youth into a dangerous terrorist.

The mother of the man who escaped a death penalty over the 9/11 attacks, Aicha El-Wafi, accuses militants of turning him from a "happy boy" into a fanatic.

She claims they took advantage of his vulnerability when he arrived in London in his early 20s, embittered by racism he suffered in France, media reports in Britain said Thursday.

"I would say that England is responsible for many things because it allowed this fever to spread around the country," she told the Canadian TV channel CBC, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph.

"These young people go to England and then they scream hatred and vengeance in front of mosques. They let the fever spread."

His brother Abd-Samad is quoted by the Telegraph as saying: "I believe Britain has fed a snake at its bosom, and has been bitten by the snake."

Zacarias Moussaoui is said to have taken his first steps into Islamic radicalism in Britain when he worshipped at hardline mosques like that in Finsbury Park, north London.

The Frenchman, of Moroccan descent, arrived in the UK in the early 1990s, living in south London on and off for nine years, the UK's Press Association reported.

In 1997 he graduated from London's South Bank University with a master's degree in international business studies.

But that was not all he was learning, according to relatives and those who met him.

The chairman of south London's Brixton Mosque, Abdul Haq Baker, told Moussaoui's death penalty trial according to PA that he was a friendly and non-violent character when he first visited the mosque in 1993, but developed an interest in radical Islam after attending extremist meetings elsewhere in the area.

His brother, Abd-Samad Moussaoui, has written that Moussaoui was indoctrinated by extremists in London after moving to the capital in a bid to improve his English and better his job chances, staying at first in a hostel for the homeless.

Of his first meetings with Moussaoui, Baker said: "He was friendly, he seemed like a very serious individual, quiet, but he had a sense of humor, quite jovial."

About a year later, he said, Moussaoui started attending meetings held by Sheikh al-Faisal, an imam expelled from the Brixton Mosque, south London, because of his support for violent jihad.

Al-Faisal -- now in jail in the U.S. for advocating the murder of Americans and Jews -- hired halls to continue propagating his message after being removed from the mosque, and Moussaoui increasingly came under his influence.

After that, Baker said, Moussaoui began talking about how he could get involved in jihad -- holy war.

Another man who attended the Finsbury Park Mosque, where extremist Abu Hamza preached, was would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid.

During his trial, Moussaoui, 37, stunned the courtroom by testifying that he and Reid were supposed to hijack a fifth aeroplane on September 11 and fly it into the White House.

That claim was later discounted when it emerged that Reid, currently serving a life sentence for trying to blow up an airliner with explosives hidden in his shoes, knew anything about the attacks before they happened.

He and Moussaoui were believed to have been "close associates", probably as a result of training together in Afghanistan, to the extent that Reid left his possessions to the other man in his will, PA said.

Baker described the change he saw in Moussaoui after the young man became involved with extremists, telling Radio 4's Today program, according to PA: "There was one occasion when he entered the mosque in military fatigues with a rucksack on his back.

"He started shouting and raising his voice and didn't want anything to do with me.

"That showed the stage he had got to, both in terms of how he was dressed and in wanting to display that in the mosque as an act of defiance."

He also began talking about how he could get involved in jihad, Baker said.

"He wanted a sense of belonging and there was frustration at what was being seen as atrocities being committed in the Muslim world.

Baker added: "When you go to an extremist and listen to their rhetoric, which galvanizes you to do something, he wanted to do something. He was actively seeking a reason for jihad."

Baker said he believed the tipping point that drove Moussaoui towards suicidal violence may have been the death of a friend who went to fight in Chechnya.

Moussaoui was arrested three weeks before September 11 on immigration charges after a flying school in Minnesota reported that he had been acting suspiciously.

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