A Moroccan man convicted of playing an integral role in helping the 9/11 hijackers execute their attack flashed a smile after being released early from prison in Germany.

The New York Post reports:

Mounir el Motassadeq was sentenced to just 15 years behind bars for accessory to murder in 2006 but received credit for time served after his initial arrest in 2001 — and was freed shortly before finishing even that stretch to be deported to his homeland.

German courts ruled that he was part of the so-called “Hamburg cell” with ringleader Mohamed Atta and two of the other extremists, and was aware the three planned to hijack and crash planes — if not all the details of the plot, which took 2,997 lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

El Motassadeq, who admitted to training at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, helped “watch the attackers’ backs and conceal them” by paying their tuition and rent so they could keep up appearances as students in Germany as they plotted, the court found.

He maintained that he knew nothing of his friends’ plans to attack the US.

Despite that, a court found el Motassadeq guilty of 246 counts of accessory to murder – one for each of the passengers aboard the four hijacked airliners. 

A federal court overturned the verdict due to a lack of evidence in 2004.

During his retrial, prosecutors successfully convicted el Motassadeq as a member of a terrorist organization. However, he was acquitted of accessory to murder.

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