Abdelghani Mzoudi

Abdelghani Mzoudi

: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: Unknown author

Overview

* Member of al Qaeda’s Hamburg cell
* Allegedly provided assistance to the 9/11 hijackers


Abdelghani Mzoudi was born on December 6, 1972 in Marrekech, Morocco. In 1995 he moved to Germany and became a member of the infamous Hamburg al Qaeda cell that would later be instrumental in the execution of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States. While residing in Hamburg, Mzoudi lived in an apartment that was owned by future 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta. During that period, Mzoudi willingly allowed some of the men who would eventually become the 9/11 hijackers to use the apartment as a meeting place.

Mzoudi was arrested in Germany in October 2002, on charges relating to his involvement in the 9/11 conspiracy. As federal prosecutor Matthias Krauss said in his opening statement at Mzoudi’s trial in Hamburg, which commenced in August 2003: “Abdelghani Mzoudi is charged with 3,066 counts of accessory to murder and with being a member of a terrorist organization.” The indictment against Mzoudi alleged that he had helped to conceal the whereabouts of Atta and a number of the other 9/11 conspirators, such as Marwan Al-Shehhi and Ramzi Binalshibh. It also accused Mzoudi of having taken care of financial matters for fellow Hamburg cell member Zakariya Essabar while the latter was attending an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan during the mid-to-late 1990s.

At one point during Mzoudi’s trial, the presiding judge asked the defendant to describe his own personal background and his upbringing in Morocco, to which Mzoudi replied: “My mother taught me the good values of Islam: honesty, not to steal and not to kill, and my father took me to our neighborhood mosque to pray since I was 7 years old.”

Mzoudi was acquitted of the charges against him on February 5, 2004, largely as the result of a U.S. decision to deny a German court’s request that Ramzi Binalshibh, a key 9/11 planner who had shared Mohammed Atta’s apartment in Hamburg with Mzoudi and had recently been arrested in Pakistan, be allowed to testify as to Mzoudi’s innocence. As Lorenzo Vidino of The Investigative Project on Terrorism explained in April 2005: “Mzoudi’s lawyers demanded that they could examine Binalshibh, whose testimony they alleged was essential to uncover Mzoudi’s real role [in 9/11]. Since the U.S. government, which has detained Binalshibh since his arrest, refused to even disclose Binalshibh’s location, German judges reluctantly acquitted Mzoudi.” The presiding judge explained that Mzoudi’s acquittal was by no means a function of the court’s belief in his innocence, but rather, a result of the prosecution’s failure to prove its case.

In August 2004, another German court ruled that Mzoudi should be allowed to continue his electrical-engineering and information-technology studies at the publicly funded Hamburg University of Applied Sciences.

On June 9, 2005, Mzoudi’s acquittal was upheld by a German federal appeals court. Explaining that the appeals panel had uncovered no evidence that any legal errors had contaminated the original court’s verdict, presiding judge Klaus Tolksdorf said: “We are aware that our decision will not find general acceptance — thousands of innocent people lost their lives in the Sept. 11 attacks. But even in the case of appalling acts, a court is bound by the law. A constitutional state cannot defend itself with means that would force it to give up its standards.”

Mzoudi returned to Morocco on June 21, 2005 as a free man. At the time, he voiced his intention to continue his electrical-engineering studies.

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