So he got a life in prison sentence instead of the death penalty, which I suppose begs the question of which of these two punishments is harsher. On Nightline last night I heard the psychologist who examined him say Moussaoui had schizophrenia and came from a family plagued with mental illness, but the court dismissed these claims. When first caught Moussaoui actually said he had nothing to do with 9/11, the mastermind behind the attack said Moussaoui had nothing to do with it either. Then Moussaoui’s story changed and he practically dared the jury to give him the death sentence.
Perhaps he missed his chance and wanted to try dying a martyr this way. But the final moments of the court room went something like this…
Addressing the court, he (Moussaoui) said he had been branded a terrorist, but had “never attacked anyone”.
“God curse America. God save Osama Bin Laden. You’ll never get him,” he said.
“I will be free and my liberation will be the proof that we are the soldiers of God and you are the army of Satan.”
But the judge told Moussaoui: “When this proceeding is over, everyone else in this room will leave to see the sun… hear the birds… and they can associate with whomever they want.
“You will spend the rest of your life in a supermax prison. It’s absolutely clear who won.”
The judge told Moussaoui: “You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory, but to paraphrase the poet TS Eliot; instead you will die with a whimper.
“You will never get a chance to speak again and that’s an appropriate ending.” [source]
On Nightline the reporter concluded the story with “America will not kill the man who hates it so much”, which is a bit odd because I wasn’t aware that America was in the business of killing people who hate it.
The people who examined him, even his lawyers, were convinced he had nothing to do with 9/11. A terrorist perhaps, hateful of Americans indeed, but had an actual hand in the crime no. They were as surprised as everyone else when he went on the stand last month and said he was supposed to lead a 5th plane into the white house; a part of the plan I’ve never heard about nor has anyone else.
But the point is there seems to have been a struggle for power in my opinion. I think Moussaoui wanted to die a martyr and saw America sentencing him to death was a way out. Add to that the fact that his execution would have been used as a recruiting video for AlQueda. I also think the jury may have been aware of this; they did not want to give him a punishment that he actually wanted, that would make it a reward.
‘Life in prison’ meant he wouldn’t die a martyr and the jury would look ‘good’ not killing the man who hates America. Sort of like a vengeful God and a merciful God. But I’ve often wondered which punishment is actually crueller. In either one your life is taken away from you but life in prison seems to be the slow and torturous type.
But who knows.
Maybe death is easier to live with (no pun intended).