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Moussaoui's mother fights extremism

Sept. 2, 2011 at 2:33 PM
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DUBLIN, Ireland, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- The mother of the Sept. 11 "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui says her son was driven to extremism partly by growing up a North African Muslim in France.

Aicha el-Wafi told CNN she did not realize how radical her son's views had become until after his arrest in the United States. Moussaoui spoke to the network while she was in Dublin, Ireland, at a recent conference on combating terrorism.

Moussaoui was arrested before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington when instructors at a flight school became suspicious of him. He was tried on terrorism charges and sentenced to life in prison.

El-Wafi said her son was subjected to "daily racism" in Narbonne, the French city where the family lived.

She now urges parents to pay attention to what their children are saying. She belongs to a French organization, Neither Whores nor Submissives, that works with Muslim families.

"I visit schools, I talk to young girls with regards to arranged marriages at 14 or 15 years of age," she said. "I see the parents and tell them you must talk about your problems you have at home, you must talk about it."

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