On 9/11 Phyllis Rodriguez, a 58-year-old teacher in New York, lost her son Greg, a 31-year-old Cantor Fitzgerald worker on the 103rd floor of the north tower. Mrs el-Wafi, 54, was a Moroccan-French civil servant living in the south of France. Two days later her son, Zacarias Moussaoui, was arrested and charged with being an al-Qaeda operative.
The pair met in the US in November 2002 and became close. "When people heard that my son was a victim, I got immediate sympathy," said Mrs Rodriguez. "But when people learned what her son was accused of, she didn't get that sympathy, but her suffering is equal to mine".
"We cried, we spent more than two hours talking and it was if we had known each other for a long time," said Mrs el-Wafi. "After we left, she sent emails, I replied. I considered her a very, very close friend. She came to see me in France four times."
Mrs Rodriguez's husband, Orlando, a sociology professor, even testified for the defence at a hearing in 2006 to decide if Moussaoui should receive a death sentence after being convicted of plotting to kill Americans on September 11.