One of only two men to be jailed over the 9/11 terror attacks is back in his home country as a free man – where he is being given a hero’s welcome.
The Daily Mail tracked down Mounir el-Motassadeq to a suburb of Marrakesh where he is now living in the family home with his wife and children.
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.
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, 44, who was described in German courts as the ‘treasurer’ for the 9/11 hijackers, spent less than 15 years in prison for his part in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon which killed 2,977 people in September 2001.
He was friends in Germany with Mohamed Atta, who crashed a plane into the North Tower and was one of the ringleaders of the Hamburg Al Qaeda cell who planned the atrocity.
The only other man convicted over 9/11, Zacarias Moussaoui, is serving six life sentences in a maximum security prison in the US after admitting to being part of the plot.
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.
Wearing a bright blue polo shirt and dark trousers, he was seen holding hands with an old friend in a djellaba robe on the way back from the mosque.
The pair discussed prayers as they laughed together on the dimly-lit street lined with orange trees in the middle-class Dawdiyat neighbourhood.
El-Motassadeq was later seen wearing glasses and a red top, getting into a BMW with his bearded brother, who was wearing a black robe and carrying a walking stick, and two other men.
A couple of hours later he returned carrying a bottle of water and his mobile phone, and headed straight back into the house.
There was no obvious surveillance at the property, although police sources said he would be watched.
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.
SOURCE: LARISA BROWN