Mounir el-Motassadeq, one of the two men jailed in connection to the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil, has been released early after 15 years in prison — and has reportedly enjoyed a “hero’s welcome” back in his home country of Morocco.
“In the first sighting of him since he was deported from Germany following his early release from prison, he was seen being greeted by well-wishers as he returned from prayers at his local mosque,” reports the Daily Mail, which tracked the 44-year-old 9/11 “treasurer” down to a suburb in Marrakesh. “A friend of the family described scenes of jubilation on his return and said people were coming from all over Morocco to see him.”
El-Motassadeq was convicted in 2007 in Germany of helping to carry out the 2001 terrorist attacks that left 2,977 people dead on September 11, 2001. The other man convicted in connection with the attack is Zacarias Moussaoui, who is currently serving six life sentences in the U.S. One of El-Motassadeq’s friends in Germany was Mohammad Atta, one of the Al Qaeda leaders in Hamburg who helped crash the plane into the North Tower.
“El-Motassadeq grinned and said he was too busy to speak as he shook hands with old friends in the street outside his home, a three-storey semi-detached house which belonged to his deceased father Ibrahim,” the Daily Mail reports.
“His sister, who lives in the same house, said ‘hamdullah’ – Arabic for ‘praise be to God’ – when asked by the Mail if she was happy about his release,” the Daily Mail adds. “Neighbours said they were ‘very happy’ to have him back. One – Hayat, a former model for Louis Vuitton – said there were jubilant scenes after his return on Friday.”
“We are very happy,” said Hayat. “The neighbors were not afraid to find out he was back. During the first and second day after he was released the streets were full of people coming to see him. His family were coming from different cities to greet him. They were really happy that he is back. His mum was crying tears of joy. His siblings were really happy.”
Saying they’ve been “neighbors for years” and that she knew him before he left for Germany, Hayat said el-Motassadeq was “very well brought up.” She said in her understanding, he had nothing to do with the terror attack; rather, he was “just friends with people who did.” She also noted that while people are coming to visit him frequently and sometimes staying the night, “There’s nothing suspicious.”
The terrorist was released before completion of his full 15-year sentence on October 15, rather than in January, on condition that he would be deported to Morocco. If he ever returns to Germany, he’ll be re-arrested.
“Escorted by special forces officers and snipers, he was blindfolded and shackled as he boarded a Puma helicopter from Fuhlsbuttel prison in Hamburg to Frankfurt,” the Mail reports. “He was flown on Royal Air Maroc flight AT811 to Casablanca the same evening.”