The ongoing carnival of the Moussaoui trial has introduced still another act: the main character turning the tables on his defense team (and himself) by a spectacular in-court confession during the sentencing stage of his trial.
This gesture of Moussaoui’s may guarantee that he gets the death penalty, which is probably exactly and precisely what he wants.
The Moussaoui trial has become–among other things–an exercise in the negatives involved in treating terrorists as ordinary criminals, including allowing them a bully pulpit for spewing forth propaganda–not that anyone who wasn’t already a jihadi would have been convinced of much of anything by the rantings of Moussaoui. His testimony is also painful for the 9/11 families, who now are confronted with the idea that if this man had spilled the beans earlier, the attacks might have been thwarted (the basis of the death penalty charge for Moussaoui):
The sister of a pilot whose hijacked plane struck the Pentagon on Sept. 11 says watching Zacarias Moussaoui’s chilling testimony on Monday provided new information for families desperate for answers, yet only worsened their emotional wounds. From a federal courthouse, Debra Burlingame watched the al-Qaida conspirator on a special video monitor set up for families of the victims of the attacks….
Burlingame shook her fists as she described testimony that the hijackers would have taken the planes into the ground if they had seen fighter planes in the air around them.
“My brother was a fighter pilot,” she said.
Her voice cracked as she dwelled on a truth too painful to bear: “The cavalry never came. The cavalry never came.”
So, is Moussaoui telling the truth now? He’s given out so many conflicting stories it’s hard to tell. But this one has some legs to it:
Gerald Leone, a former first assistant US attorney in Boston who was the lead prosecutor in the shoe-bombing case against Reid, said yesterday that it is impossible to know whether Moussaoui is telling the truth. Moussaoui may finally be coming clean, he said, or instead is now embellishing his role. But Leone said Moussaoui’s story is consistent with what is known about Reid.
Investigators know that Reid and Moussaoui knew each other, went to the same London mosque and the same training camps in Afghanistan, and had at least one Al Qaeda handler in common, he said. ….
Leone said that Reid told his interrogators that he had been ”disappointed” that he didn’t participate in the 9/11 attacks and that he had had a dream in which he missed a van carrying the 9/11 hijackers and thus could not join the plot….
“It’s just so difficult to tell with a guy like Moussaoui where his motivations and intentions lie,” Leone said. ”I don’t think anyone is even clear whether he considers the death penalty to be a badge of honor or not. He’s clearly said he wants to die a martyr, but not at the hands of the government. So it’s a mixed bag.”
Ah, the sorrow of missing out on all the glory! Failed suicidal jihadis such as Reid (and probably Moussaoui) seem to be plagued by their own version of the student anxiety dream. Bummer.
It is probable that, once a person makes up his/her mind to be a suicide mass murderer, a line is crossed. The person has accepted the necessity and reality of his/her death (I’m tired of this PC gender stuff; from here on in this essay I am just using the masculine, since the vast majority of these people are men); visualized it and gloried in it, as well as expecting that this martyrdom will lead to lasting glory. It must be a cruel cheat to be deprived of such a “consummation devoutly to be wished.”
So, if a man is prepared to die, and considers himself a “dead man walking” already, it’s only the manner of his death that remains at issue. Unable to effect the death of his choice–taking thousands of people with him–he goes for the next best thing, now that his task is done. He has already made the legal system look bad (not so difficult, as it turns out), cost us plenty of money (likewise, not too hard), taken full advantage of the stage he was given, and increased the grief of the 9/11 survivors. Not too bad for a man on trial for his life.
Another motive I think may be driving Moussaoui in particular: from the very start, he has shown great contempt for his own lawyers. Yesterday’s courtroom scene must have been quite the show, his defense attorneys trying desperately to shut him up, and then scrambling to negate what he’d said. So another perk of his confession would be to stick it to the hated lawyers.
It stands to reason that Moussaoui despises their attempts to save him as unworthy of a jihadi, not to mention being stupid (and inexplicable) activities against the US’s own interest, since Moussaoui doesn’t seem to appreciate the US legal system–in fact, he’s made it clear he despises it, also.
All in all, a good day for Moussaoui, by his lights.
[NOTE: A while back I wrote this post discussing the bizarre Moussaoui family and its history. It's well worth reading, I think--and I think you'll be surprised by what some of his siblings are up to.
The story of this family is a sad and terrible tale, though a fascinating one (at least to me). I do not, however, offer it as an excuse for Moussaoui, who must bear the responsibility for his own actions.]