A 9/11 Friendship of Forgiveness

Two mothers—one whose son was killed on 9/11, one whose son is jailed for conspiracy to commit the attacks—explain their unlikely friendship.
9/11 Women Hugging


On September 11, 2001, Phyllis Rodriguez' son, Greg, was killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Two months later, Aicha el-Wafi's son, Zacarias Moussaou, was indicted on charges of conspiring to plan the attack that killed him.

In 2002, the two mothers met. Over the years they have built an unlikely friendship based on forgiveness, peace, and hope for the future. 

"When Greg was killed I thought, 'I will never forgive the people who murdered my son,' but I have come to see forgiveness as more than a word; it’s a context, a process. I don’t forgive the act, but trying to understand why someone has acted in the way they have is part of the process of forgiving. Forgiveness is being able to accept another person for being human and fallible," Rodriguez wrote.

"When I watched Zacarias at the trial my heart was broken because I could not look at him as a stranger. I saw him as the son of my friend Aicha."


  • A 9/11 widow on working for peace when the world expects you to want revenge.

  • Brought together by the events of 9/11, three friends from different faiths reflect on what it will take to reach the other side of hatred. 

  • Learning the foundations of each other's faiths can help us learn to respect and connect with one another so we may work together to build a better world.