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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Moroccan 'aided 11 Sept attacks'
Ruins of the World Trade Center
Motassadek is accused of helping plan the attacks
Authorities in Germany have outlined charges against a Moroccan man accused of links with the 11 September terror attacks on the United States.

Mounir al-Motassadek is accused of belonging to a terrorist organisation and assisting in the murder of more than 3,000 people.

Motassadek was arrested in November
German Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm said Mr Motassadek, who is accused of being part of a Hamburg cell of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, is believed to have helped three of the hijack pilots enter the United States.

Mr Nehm said prosecutors had also prepared charges against three other alleged members of the Hamburg group.

The 28-year-old Moroccan, who was arrested in November 2001, is the first person to be charged in Europe in connection with the attacks.

Planned attacks

Mr Nehm said Mr Motassadek was part of a group which arrived in Hamburg from Arab countries between 1992 and 1997.

There will be thousands of dead. You will all think of me

Marwan al-Shehhi, hijacker
He lived in an apartment in the city near to that of alleged hijacker Marwan al-Shehhi and the suspected ringleader of the group, Mohamed Atta.

Mr Nehm said the alleged cell was planning an attack on the World Trade Centre in New York well over a year before last September's strikes.

Al-Shehhi, who is believed to have flown one of the hijacked planes which hit the twin towers, was said to have mentioned the World Trade Centre to a Hamburg librarian in April or May 2000.

Mr Nehm said al-Shehhi had added: "There will be thousands of dead, you will think of me."

Managed bank account

Mr Nehm said Mr Motassadek and other members of the cell flew to Afghanistan to organise the logistical details of the attacks and that the Moroccan received training from al-Qaeda in the city of Kandahar.

Mohamed Atta
Hijacker Mohamed Atta lived with Motassadek

The suspects returned to Germany in early 2000, and the hijackers flew to the United States, where they began training at flight schools in Florida.

The federal prosecutor said Mr Motassadek helped three of the pilots enter the US and managed a bank account in the United Arab Emirates, which was used to finance the hijackers' flying lessons and living costs.

He said Mr Motassadek talked to Mohamed Atta on the telephone two days before 11 September and also signed his will.

Extremist ideology

Mr Nehm said the Hamburg group became radicalised in 1998 and adopted a philosophy rejecting western consumer culture.

He said the group was motivated by a hatred of the international Jewish community and a belief that it was their duty to convert non-believers to Islam.

In investigating the Hamburg cell, authorities had looked into the activities of other Islamic groups and examined a terrorist network including Italy, Spain, France and Great Britain.

German police are still hunting three other men who they say lived with Atta.

The three had reportedly tried to enter the United States but had been denied visas.

The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"The charges are described as a step forward"
The BBC's Patrick Bartlett
"There will be thousands of dead in the United States, you will all think of me"
The BBC's Mark Doyle
"Only a handful of known senior members of al-Qaeda have been captured or killed"

Key stories

European probe


See also:

29 Aug 02 | Media reports
29 Aug 02 | Europe
29 Aug 02 | Americas
25 Apr 02 | Europe
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