Moussaoui sentenced to life in nation's hardest prison

Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to spend his life in America's strictest prison but not before he scolded Americans for missing a chance to learn why al-Qaida terrorists hate them.

Capping four years of legal maneuvering and a two-month trial, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema sentenced the unrepentant 37-year-old Frenchman on Thursday to six life sentences, to run as two consecutive ones. She told him he would "die with a whimper," isolated from the world and not in the glory of martyrdom he sought.

In a final parting shot, Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States in the nation's deadliest terror attack, accused Americans of "hypocrisy ... beyond any belief."

A member of the jury told The Washington Post the panel had decided against the death penalty for Moussaoui because "his role in 9/11 was actually minor."

Special rules at the federal supermax prison in Colorado, where Brinkema sent Moussaoui will bar the voluble if ineffective terrorist from contact with the outside for the rest of his life.

Putting aside the abusive epithets and clownish comments he became known for, Moussaoui sought to offer a sober explanation of his hatred for the United States and chastised America for refusing to listen.

Moussaoui directed what may be his last public words to three relatives of people killed on Sept. 11, 2001, relatives who moments before had stood in court, facing Moussaoui, and described loved ones lost the day four hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

He said Americans feel only their own pain and wondered if they would ever consider "how many people the CIA has destroyed." He called the trial "a wasted opportunity for this country to understand ... why people like me, like (hijacker) Mohamed Atta and the rest have so much hatred for you."

Moments later, Brinkema refused to be interrupted by Moussaoui as she disputed his declaration Wednesday that: "America, you lost. ... I won."

She told Moussaoui that after the proceeding everyone else in the room would be "free to go any place they want. They can go outside and they can feel the sun, ... smell the fresh air, ... hear the birds. They can eat what they want tonight. They can associate with whom they want."

She went on: "You will spend the rest of your life in a supermaximum security prison. ... It's quite clear who won ... and who lost."

"You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory," she said, "but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper."

At that point, Moussaoui tried to interrupt her, but she raised her voice and spoke over him.

"You will never again get a chance to speak and that's an appropriate and fair ending."

One of the jurors, who spoke with The Washington Post on condition of anonymity, said some members of the panel voted against execution because Moussaoui "wasn't necessarily part of the 9/11 operation." The juror called Moussaoui "a despicable character," someone who "mocks and taunts family members whose loved ones died," the newspaper reported, reports the AP.

I.L.