“The end of this case but not an end to the fight against terror.” That was George W. Bush’s reaction to the verdict. The US president spoke out after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Mr Moussaoui got a fair trial. The jury convicted him to life in prison, where he will spend the rest of his life,” he said. “In so doing, they spared his life, which is something that he evidently was not willing to do for innocent American citizens.“It is really important for the United States to stay on the offence against these killers and bring them to justice.” Moussaoui was already in jail when the Twin Towers were struck. Federal prosecutors argued his failure to warn the authorities about the upcoming attacks made him as guilty as if he had carried them out himself. Not all members of the jury agreed. “His conduct simply did not warrant the death penalty,” said law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University. “Many of us were concerned that if the government had succeeded in this case, that it could have expanded the use of the death penalty a hundred fold.
“What the government was arguing is that you could be put to death for an act of omission – simply failing to say what you knew about a possible crime.” Five years on, analysts are divided over what the verdict means. Some say US national security might have been damaged by a death sentence which would have made Moussaoui a martyr in the eyes of extremist sympathizers.