Aicha el-Wafi appeared at the "welcoming gathering" on Sunday in White Plains, about 25 miles north of ground zero, before returning home to France. The event included peace workers, anti-death-penalty activists and mothers from Memorial United Methodist Church.
On Monday, a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., recessed Moussaoui's death penalty trial to consider whether government violations of her rules against coaching witnesses should remove the death penalty as an option. Moussaoui is an admitted al Qaeda conspirator.
At Sunday's gathering, Connie Taylor, who lost her 37-year-old son, Bradley, on Sept. 11, stepped toward el-Wafi and embraced her. Many of those who formed a circle around them also began to cry.
Taylor said she had concluded that el-Wafi's plight was greater than her own.
"She is blaming her son, in part," Taylor said. "That must be so horrible. I didn't experience that."
"The hardest suffering in the world today is that of parents who lose their children," el-Wafi said in French. "There will never be an explanation to justify this. The suffering will last forever."
El-Wafi, who raised four children alone while working as a cleaning woman, said that she lost her son to an Islamist movement just as another mother might lose hers to drugs or a cult.
She said that her older son has also joined an Islamist movement, in Lebanon. "In these movements, they look for the little cracks to get into people's minds and control them," she said.
El-Wafi said her future might include work for peace and justice causes. In the fall of 2002, she arranged to meet in New York with six people who lost loved ones on Sept. 11.
But for now, her life is in a holding pattern.
"I am only a mother," she said.