Video: Moussaoui trial continues

updated 4/17/2006 8:27:45 PM ET 2006-04-18T00:27:45

A defense psychologist testified Monday that Zacarias Moussaoui is a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions, as defense lawyers presented additional evidence the confessed Sept. 11 conspirator believes he will be freed from prison by President Bush.

Psychologist Xavier Amador testified Moussaoui displays symptoms of the brain disorder, including delusions and disorganized thoughts and speech.

Moussaoui’s court-appointed defense lawyers believe he has lied on the witness stand twice about having a role in the nation’s worst terrorist attack in order to achieve martyrdom through execution or an enhanced role in history.

Amador has never examined Moussaoui, who refused to see him. He said his diagnosis is based in part on conclusions of other mental-health professionals and an analysis of Moussaoui’s actions and writings, including numerous rambling and abusive legal motions Moussaoui filed during the 18 months he represented himself.

Last week, in his second appearance as a witness, the 37-year-old Frenchman reiterated his stunning earlier testimony that he was to hijack a fifth jetliner on Sept. 11 and fly into the White House — a plan he had said for years was intended for a later date.

Defendant’s after-trial plans
He added that he has dreamed Bush will release him before leaving office in 2009 as part of a prisoner exchange for U.S. troops captured abroad, and said he is convinced that will occur.

One of Moussaoui guards at the Alexandria Jail, called by the defense Monday, offered more details of Moussaoui’s vision. Sheriff’s Deputy Vikas Ohri said Moussaoui has told him that after Bush frees him, he will “fly to London, write a book, make some money and go back to the mountains of Afghanistan and be al-Qaida.”

Earlier defense witnesses described Moussaoui’s impoverished childhood with a violent, alcoholic father and his later embrace of radical Islam, after anti-Arab racism and his background thwarted his desire to become an international businessman.

Childhood traumas
They included a clinical social worker who said Moussaoui suffered a traumatic childhood that transformed him from a child with a sense of humor who made friends easily to a man who spurned his family and embraced radical Islam.

Jan Vogelsang said Monday that Moussaoui was in and out of orphanages the first six years of his life. As a teenager, she said, he was rejected as a “dirty Arab” by the family of his longtime girlfriend, with whom he lived together briefly and won dance contests.

Moussaoui was dismissive of the social worker’s analysis. He shouted “It’s a lot of American B.S.!” as he left the courtroom for the lunch recess.

The jury also heard videotaped testimony taken in France in December from Moussaoui’s sister Jamilla, who described her younger brother as “a pretty little baby, always smiling.... He was the little sweetheart of the family.” She also described the abusive atmosphere caused by their father, Omar, who repeatedly beat Jamilla and the siblings’ mother.

Life or death
Moussaoui was in jail in Minnesota during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The jury has decided that lies he told federal agents a month earlier kept authorities from identifying and stopping some of the hijackers, making him responsible for at least one death that day and qualifying him for the death penalty.

Now jurors are deciding whether Moussaoui deserves execution or life in prison.

In her videotaped testimony, Moussaoui’s sister said their father would intervene in their lives even after the parents had divorced and that “each time he reappeared in our lives, it was to traumatize us.”

“He left us completely destitute,” she testified. “He was a man who never should have had children.”

Chaotic childhood
At the outset of her testimony Monday, Vogelsang said she did not intend to make excuses for Moussaoui’s actions as a terrorist but wanted to explain how he had reached that point. She never interviewed Moussaoui herself, relying instead on interviews with 50 family members, friends and others, like teachers, who knew him.

Vogelsang said that Moussaoui’s mother, Aicha el-Wafi, was beaten throughout her pregnancies — including six before she gave birth to Moussaoui. Born in a French town near the Spanish border and of Moroccan descent, Moussaoui went to an orphanage four months after his birth, when his mother was placed in a convalescent home, she said.

She added that Moussaoui’s family only nominally practiced Islam and celebrated Christian holidays because his mother wanted her children to integrate into French culture.

As a boy, Moussaoui made friends and displayed a sense of humor, Vogelsang said, despite a childhood in which Omar Moussaoui frequently beat el-Wafi and Moussaoui’s sister Jamilla. Later, when Moussaoui was 6 and his mother had divorced Omar, an uncle moved into the home and beat Moussaoui and other family members.

Mental illness a family legacy
Mental illness was rampant in the family. Omar is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is currently institutionalized, Vogelsang said. Moussaoui’s two sisters have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychosis with schizophrenic features, respectively.

In 1992, Moussaoui moved to London in hopes of becoming an international businessman. He struggled to acclimate himself and learn English. He obtained a master’s degree from South Bank University. It was during Moussaoui’s time in London from 1993 to 1995 that his family noticed a transformation.

“He started shaving his head and wearing a beard,” Vogelsang said. “He was fussing at his sisters for how they dressed,” calling one sister a “whore” for dressing in Western clothing.

Would-be shoe bomber won’t testify
Testimony resumed Monday with the defense in flux. Moussaoui took the witness stand in his own defense Thursday for a second time, and again did more harm to himself than good as he reveled in the death and destruction of Sept. 11 and mocked the testimony of the victims and their families.

One day after Moussaoui’s testimony, the judge vacated an earlier order compelling would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid to testify in his defense. The jury may instead hear a written statement summarizing some of what the al-Qaida comrade would have said on the witness stand.

Reid is serving a life sentence in the federal government’s maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo., after a failed try to blow up an American Airlines flight in 2001.

Buddies in al-Qaida
Moussaoui, who calls Reid his “buddy” from their days together in al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan, testified last month that he and Reid were going to hijack a fifth plane on Sept. 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House.

That testimony came after Moussaoui had for years denied any specific role in 9/11.

Moussaoui’s lawyers have suggested he fabricated his story about Reid and their role in the 9/11 plot in an effort to sabotage his own defense and achieve martyrdom through execution. They also say he is trying to inflate his role in history.

Defense lawyers had hoped Reid would disavow any knowledge of Moussaoui’s claim and bolster their argument that Moussaoui is now lying.

Moussaoui is the only person charged in this country in the Sept. 11 attacks.

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