ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Family members of Sept. 11 victims on Friday expressed satisfaction and gratitude to the government for pursuing the case against Zacarias Moussaoui (search).
Outside the courthouse where Moussaoui pleaded guilty to conspiring with the Sept. 11 hijackers, Hamilton Peterson, whose father and stepmother died on United Airlines Flight 93 (search) in Pennsylvania, shook hands with First Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Melsom and said, "As family members, we thank you for your unwavering efforts."
Peterson, of nearby Bethesda, Md., told reporters that "probably the most compelling revelation" during the proceeding was Moussaoui's admission that he was training to fly a 747 jetliner into the White House in a bid to free Omar Abdel-Rahman (search), the blind Egyptian sheik imprisoned in this country for the last dozen years.
Dominic J. Puopolo Jr. of Miami Beach, Fla., whose mother was aboard American Airlines Flight 11 that flew into the World Trade Center, told reporters he had "a tremendous feeling justice is being served."
He said, "I promised my mother shortly after she was murdered I'd somehow have justice."
Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles piloted American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, said "this is a great day for American justice."
Peterson said he "absolutely" wanted to see Moussaoui get the death sentence. But Burlingame said simply, "Any penalty he gets he will absolutely deserve."
The family members objected to Moussaoui's assertion in court that nothing in the statement of evidence that he signed showed him "specifically guilty of 9-11." They pointed to paragraph 16 in the statement, which says that after his arrest in August 2001, Moussaoui lied to federal agents about why he was taking flight training in Minnesota, thus allowing his al-Qaida compatriots to go forward and fly planes into buildings.