Paris -- The mother of a French-Moroccan man currently detained in New York by officials investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks against the United States says her son was "brainwashed" by Islamic extremists.
Zacarias Moussaoui was detained on immigration issues after he aroused suspicions while seeking to buy time on a flight simulator for jetliners at a Minnesota flight school, law enforcement officials say. He had also sought flight training in Oklahoma.
Since last week's attacks, he has been named a material witness and sent to New York, where a grand jury on the terror case has been convened.
Police officials have told The Associated Press that France's internal security service had placed Moussaoui on a 1999 watch list of those possibly affiliated with militant Islamic groups.
His mother, Aicha Moussaoui, told the French magazine L'Express in an article published on its Web site that her son had apparently undergone a conversion to a strict form of Islam through his contacts with Islamic organizations while living and studying in Britain in the 1990s.
"To me," she said, "they had put him through a real brainwashing."
Aicha Moussaoui, who lives in the southern French town of Narbonne, could not be reached on Thursday. Employees at the town's newspaper, the Independent, said she had fled the area after being pursued by journalists.
Moussaoui's mother told L'Express that her son developed "a true hatred" when high school officials in his town rejected him and directed him to a technical school. She said she had been separated from her son for a number of years.