Confessed al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui said Thursday it made his day to hear accounts of Americans’ suffering from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and he would like to see similar attacks “every day.”
Taking the witness stand for the second time in his death-penalty trial Thursday, Moussaoui mocked a Navy sailor who wept on the stand as she described the death of two of her subordinates.
“I think it was disgusting for a military person” to cry, Moussaoui said of the testimony of Navy Lt. Nancy McKeown. “She is military, she should expect people at war with her to want to kill her.”
Asked if he was happy to hear her sobbing, he said, “Make my day.”
Moussaoui said he had “no regret, no remorse” about the 9/11 attacks. Asked by prosecutor Rob Spencer if he would like to see it happen again, Moussaoui responded: “Every day until we get you.”
Convinced he will be freed
Moussaoui also said on cross-examination that he is convinced President Bush will free him before the end of his term and that he will return to London.
Prosecutor Rob Spencer tried several times to get Moussaoui to say he didn’t really believe that, but Moussaoui was insistent.
“I haven’t doubted it for one single second,” said Moussaoui, adding that the vision came to him in a dream just like his dream of flying a plane into the White House.
He also argued that he could not get a fair trial so close to the Pentagon and he criticized U.S. support for Israel.
Moussaoui testified that he believes his court-appointed lawyers are working against him and that if he’d had control over his defense, he would have argued that he should escape the death penalty and be available for a prisoner swap if American troops are captured overseas.
Moussaoui, as defiant on the witness stand as he has been at the defendant’s table throughout the trial, testified against the advice of his court-appointed lawyers and attacked them before the jury that must decide whether to sentence him to death or to spend life in prison.
Offering a lengthy explanation of why he hates Americans, Moussaoui criticized the United States’ support for Israel. He said Muslims have been at war with Christians and Jews for centuries. Israel, he said, is “just a missing star in the American flag.”
Offered quotes from the Koran
Moussaoui told jurors that Islam requires Muslims to be the world’s superpower as he flipped through a copy of the Koran searching for verses to support his assertions. One he cited requires non-Muslim nations to pay a tribute to Muslim countries.
“We have to be the superpower. You have to be subdued. We have to be above you,” Moussaoui said. “Because Americans, you are the superpower, you want to eradicate us.”
At one point, defense lawyer Gerald Zerkin asked Moussaoui if he thought he was helping his case when he testified earlier that he planned to pilot a plane into the White House on Sept. 11.
“I was putting my trust in God, so from an Islamic point of view, yes,” Moussaoui responded, acknowledging that non-Muslims might view his testimony as harmful to his case.
At several points during his afternoon testimony, Moussaoui acknowledged that he has lied when it has suited his interests throughout the course of his four-year case.
Lying to achieve martyrdom?
Defense lawyers have said Moussaoui is lying about his role in Sept. 11 — the worst terrorism attack ever on U.S. soil — in the hopes of achieving martyrdom through execution.
Moussaoui testified Thursday that “for the last four years, I have been fighting” against the death penalty. He said he considered the consequences of his previous testimony about his role in Sept. 11 and “decided to just put my trust in God, tell the truth and time will tell.”
Assailing his court-appointed lawyers, Moussaoui said: “You have put your vested interest in keeping this case in your hands, above my interest to save my life.”
Moussaoui suggested they preferred the fame that comes from handling a high-profile trial rather than seeking a change of venue to move the case away from Virginia, a state with a reputation for jurors amenable to the death penalty.
Moussaoui sought different trial location in 2002
In April 2002, when he was serving as his own defense counsel, Moussaoui filed a motion seeking to move the trial, citing an overrepresentation of government employees in the area. He also said there was more intense media attention in the northern Virginia area due to the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon, which is a short distance from the courthouse.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, however, rejected the claim and said Moussaoui would be able to get an impartial jury.
Zerkin had asked him if he believed that his defense team was in a conspiracy to kill him. Moussaoui responded that they have been engaged in “criminal non-assistance.”
Earlier, Moussaoui’s lawyers opened his defense by seeking to convince jurors to spare his life and put him in a place from which he could never escape.
James E. Aiken, the first defense witness in the second phase of Moussaoui’s death-penalty trial, said Moussaoui would always require the highest level of supervision and would be isolated not only from the outside world but also from other prisoners.
“I don’t care how good he is ... I don’t care how compliant he is. He will be in the security envelope as long as he lives,” Aiken said.
Moussaoui’s defense team is expected to argue in the next few days that his life should be spared because of his limited role in the 9/11 attacks. They plan to present evidence that he is mentally ill and that his execution would only play into his dream of martyrdom.
Moussaoui is the only person charged in this country in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. The jury deciding his fate has already declared him eligible for the death penalty by determining that his actions caused at least one death on Sept. 11.
Even though he was in jail in Minnesota at the time of the attacks, the jury ruled that lies told by Moussaoui to federal agents a month before the attacks kept them from identifying and stopping some of the hijackers.