Length: 54 minutes (ARTE, 29 Aug. 2006, 8:40 p.m.)
Zacarias Moussaoui is the only assassin who was brought to court on charges for the attacks on Sept. 11th, 2001. It was a symbolic trial for the USA. In May 2006 he was sentenced to life in prison. He is to have no contact with the outside world until he dies. Though still alive, he has been locked away for good.
Is he the so-called “20th bomber”, the one who was supposed to fly a plane into the White House? Or was he merely a psychologically ill wannabe co-conspirator? Fact is, he was arrested 4 weeks before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon when he tried to get lessons on how to fly a Boeing 747. What has also been established is that the FBI could have prevented the attacks on September 11th if Moussaoui’s notebook and laptop had been thoroughly searched in time.
What made a young French citizen born in Morocco hook up with al-Qaeda and have himself trained at camps in Afghanistan to become a suicide bomber? As a youth he was not religious. He liked parties, loved his girfriend, and even drank alcohol at times - that is, until the day in London when he was converted by radical Muslim preachers to join the jihad.
His mother, Aïcha el-Wafi, fought against the death sentence for her son during the trial. On the fringes of the court proceedings in the USA she became acquainted with Phyllis Rodriguez, the mother of Greg. He was killed in the flames that consumed the World Trade Center. Film-maker Valentin Thurn shows the development of this extraordinary friendship in his documentary film and retraces the history of the broken Moussaoui family. Intense interviews with friends and relatives, among others with both of Moussaoui's two sisters, are augmented by exclusive footage, some of which has never been shown before - including a private video of Zacarias in his youth.
On the 5th anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington, the film takes a new, heretofore unknown look at the young Frenchman from Morocco: on a man whose difficult family background and subsequent influence through Islamist circles turned him into a pilot of death. A pilot who, in the end, never got to carry out his mission. The film also casts an illuminating light on Moussaoui's conduct during the trial: on his admission of guilt, which he has meanwhile retracted, and on the role justice plays in the USA. This along with the wish expressed by many Americans to have judgment passed on the only assassin brought to court.
Nominated as “Best Feature” for the Deutscher Fernsehpreis (‘German Television Prize’)
Video (ca. 10 mn) (German)
Trailer (ca. 3:30 mn) (English)
Nominated for the German TV Award.
Screenplay and Director:Valentin Thurn
Co-author: Stephan Müller
Camera: Boris Fromageot, Wolfgang Lehner
Sound: David Kammerer
Editor: Dorothee Plass
Research:Britta Dombrowe, Mathias Marx
English sub-title: SUBS Hamburg, Katja Büssemeier
Executive Producer: Sylvia Nagel
Director: Ulrike Dotzer
Court drawings: Art Lien
Al Qaeda Videos: Terrorisc
Flight school: Albatros Air, Bonn
A production of Thurn Film in order of NDR in cooperation with ARTE
Programminfo ARTE auf Deutsch
ARTE Dossier français
International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animation Films (DOK Leipzig), 2006, Leipzig, Germany
Basel_Karlsruhe Forum 2007 (BaKaFORUM, Basel, Switzerland)
Gold Panda Awards 2007, International Sichuan TV Festival, China