As he stood in a Virginia courthouse Wednesday charged as a would-be hijacker, 33-year-old Zacarias Moussaoui was thousands of miles and many years removed from a youthful and innocent past.
"The brother I know, the brother before 1995, which is when the last time I saw him, I don't think would be capable of such a thing," Abd Samad Moussaoui told CBS News' 48 Hours in October. "He would not be capable of suicide."
Born to Moroccan parents, Abd Samad and his little brother Zacarias grew up in the south of France, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod. In his early 20s, Zacarias moved to London and in 1995 earned a business degree. Over the years he began to take on a deep, militant belief in Islam.
By 1998, according to prosecutors, Zacarias was training with al-Qaida in Afghanistan. His radical connections earned him a spot on a French intelligence watch list. Unaware of his past, the American embassy in London allowed him to enter the U.S. to begin flight training last February.
Zacarias promptly flunked out of the Airman Flight School in Norman, Okla. In August, he tried again, paying $6,300 in cash to the Pan Am International Flight Academy outside Minneapolis. He immediately drew suspicion when his instructor tried speaking to him in French.
According to Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar, "At that point Moussaoui became quite agitated and said 'I didn't spend a lot of time in France, I'm really from the Middle East.'"
Privy to a briefing by the flight school, Oberstar said Zacarias insisted on learning to fly a 747 -- even though he couldn't even fly a single-engine Cessna.
An alert instructor called the FBI but Oberstar said he faced a bureaucratic runaround. "At that point, the instructor said, 'do you realize that a 747 loaded with fuel can be a bomb?' It got the FBI agents' attention."
The instructor reportedly told the FBI on Aug. 15 Zacarias Moussaoui might be plotting a hijacking. The next day, he was arrested.
The FBI scoured Zacarias Moussaoui's past and learned that he may hav had ties to Islamic extremists. But the feds were unable to piece together a conspiracy, and had no indication of what was about to happen in Washington and New York. The very man the FBI had in their custody before September 11 is now the only person in the United States charged in the attack on America.
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