Zacarias Moussaoui’s behavior is abnormal even for an al Qaeda terrorist, a defense psychologist testified yesterday.
Xavier Amador diagnosed the September 11 conspirator with paranoid schizophrenia after observing his actions and writings since 2002. Mr. Amador cited delusional thoughts of Moussaoui, including his conviction that President Bush will free him from prison and that his court-appointed attorneys are in a conspiracy to kill him.
The psychologist also contrasted Moussaoui’s erratic behavior with that of other al Qaeda terrorists who have been tried in U.S. criminal courts. The defense introduced affidavits filed by attorneys for Ramzi Yousef, who is serving life in prison for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, and other al Qaeda members. All the attorneys said their clients actively assisted their defense and did not think their attorneys were working against them.
“What we see with this individual is unique to him,” Mr. Amador said. “It’s not al Qaeda.”
On cross-examination, prosecutor David Novak suggested that Moussaoui’s behavior is, indeed, consistent with that of other al Qaeda terrorists. He said that Yousef represented himself for an extended period of time and that another al Qaeda terrorist tried to take his attorneys hostage.
Mr. Amador said he would need more information about those incidents to reassess his opinion. The psychologist also said he gave several interviews about the case despite a court order barring such interviews.
Mr. Amador said his diagnosis was confirmed after an hourlong encounter with Moussaoui last April in which the defendant spit water on him more than a dozen times, repeatedly told him to go away and appeared to be talking to himself in a manner that did not seem to be prayer.
Moussaoui then complained that guards used excessive force in taking him from his Alexandria jail cell to a deposition at the federal courthouse. And he told Mr. Amador that Mr. Bush would release him from prison.
Expert witnesses for the government have reached conclusions that diverge from Mr. Amador’s statements and are expected to testify later this week in rebuttal.
Moussaoui mocked the testimony about his reported schizophrenia. He said “beautiful terrorist mind” as he was led from court during a recess. After a second break, he said, smiling broadly, “Crazy or not crazy? That is the question.”
Mr. Amador cited as other evidence of Moussaoui’s paranoia his thought that an electric fan that he picked up from the curb outside his Oklahoma apartment in 2001 was bugged by the FBI.
Moussaoui previously said he thinks that all Americans, including his attorneys, want him killed. And he said in testimony that he was concerned the fan may have been bugged, but that he was not convinced of it.
Although prosecutors’ experts have been able to examine Moussaoui, he refused to cooperate with Mr. Amador or any other defense expert.