Return to Transcripts main page
CNN BREAKING NEWS
Court Acquits Moroccan
Aired February 5, 2004 - 05:40 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news to tell you about out of Hamburg, Germany. We told you about this case a little earlier. A man named Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi, a Moroccan man suspected of belonging to the Hamburg al Qaeda cell, he's also suspected of helping the 9/11 hijackers, is on trial in Germany. A verdict of some sort -- some sort of decision has been made.
Walter Rodgers live on the phone with us now to tell us what that decision is.
Walter, go for it.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Carol.
A Hamburg court has acquitted Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi of charges that he helped the September 11 suicide hijackers. Mzoudi was accused of being an accessory in the murders of about 3,000 people killed in the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States.
German authorities, as recently as yesterday, said they still believe Mzoudi was deeply involved in Islamistic activities here in Hamburg. He admits being a friend of the suicide hijackers, including Mohamed Atta who piloted one of the planes into the World Trade Center. Mzoudi co-signed al-Atta's will. But the evidence was apparently not strong enough to convict Atta of being part of the plot -- excuse me -- convict Mzoudi of being part of the plot.
Testimony from another al Qaeda member now in the end (ph) -- in American custody also tended to exonerate Mzoudi. But because the Americans would not allow the other witness, believed to be Ramzi Binalshibh, to testify or be cross-examined, the German court has acquitted him. The government simply was not able to prove its claims in court.
That leaves only one person said to be involved in the 9/11 suicide hijackings ever to have been convicted in a court of law Monier al-Montasiday (ph) another Moroccan. He is serving a 15-year sentence for being an accessory. But Montasiday is also appealing his conviction, thinking the same laws of evidence will acquit him.
If Montasiday is also freed, it would mean the so-called war on terror has never been able to come up with enough evidence to convict anyone in a court of law of aiding and abetting the hijackers. And that leaves the dubious conclusion that the 19 dead hijackers committed the crime all by themselves without any assistance from anyone still alive -- Carol. COSTELLO: You know, Walter, just the thought of this man going free to do what he will is frightening to many Americans, I'm sure. You would hope that people would keep an eye on him now, but I know that's an impossible question to answer, but it is a disturbing development.
Walter Rodgers reporting.
Go ahead -- Walter.
RODGERS: Well I was going to say, and this is important, the Western courts, the German courts, the American courts, the British courts all have to operate on rules of evidence, and the evidence was not strong enough to convict Mzoudi. Indeed there were very strong suspicions he was involved in this, but there wasn't enough proof. And some of that proof may lie in intelligence services' files around the world. But again, absent the evidence, he had to be acquitted and that's what the German court has done. It will not be a popular verdict, but it is operating within the confines of the law.
And what's just as important to remember in all this is that al Qaeda has been brilliant at manipulating the Western democratic societies, raising money in the West, in the United States, in Europe and it's been brilliant at manipulating the legal system -- Carol.
COSTELLO: And of course the same thing could happen here in the United States in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, having a lot of trouble with that trial.
Walter Rodgers reporting live from Hamburg, Germany this morning.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com