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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 August, 2003, 19:49 GMT 20:49 UK
Hamburg suspect 'knew 9/11 cell'
Abdelghani Mzoudi
Mzoudi's relationship with Mohammed Atta will be examined

Defence lawyers for a suspected member of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell responsible for the 11 September attacks say he knew the hijackers but not their plans.

The 30-year-old Moroccan-born defendant, Abdelghani Mzoudi, is the second person to be tried in Germany in connection with the attacks on the United States in 2001.

He is charged with 3,066 counts of aiding and abetting murder, and with membership of a terrorist organisation.

Mr Mzoudi, speaking in Arabic and broken German from behind a bullet proof screen, told the court: "My mother raised me and tried to give me the values of honesty, not stealing and not killing - just the good values of Islam."

He made no mention of any links to the hijackers or attendance of training camps.

The prosecution case will focus on Mr Mzoudi's friendship with Mohammed Atta, the presumed ringleader of the hijackers, and the other members of the Hamburg cell.

Bank transfers

The defendant lived in Atta's flat in Hamburg and signed his will.

Mr Mzoudi was arrested in Hamburg last October.

My mother raised me and tried to give me the values of honesty, not stealing and not killing - just the good values of Islam
Abdelghani Mzoudi
"From early summer 1999 until 11 September, 2001, (Mr Mzoudi) was a member of a terrorist organisation and helped the suspected terrorists commit murder and other crimes," prosecutor Matthias Krauss told the court.

"His actions were designed to support the terror attacks. He was integrated into the plans from the beginning."

Mr Mzoudi is alleged to have arranged bank transfers for the members of the Hamburg cell and to have attended an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.

He moved to Germany from Morocco in 1993.

Mr Mzoudi's defence team say they will challenge the veracity of US evidence to get their client acquitted.

Abdelghani Mzoudi sitting second from left in a Hamburg courtroom
Mzoudi allegedly arranged bank transfers
Lawyer Michael Rosenthal said the attacks his client is charged with supporting were "a new Pearl Harbour" seized on by the Bush administration to pursue an aggressive foreign policy.

He said some of the US evidence assembled by German investigators for the case simply did not add up.

In February, another Moroccan man, Mounir al-Motassadek, was sentenced in Hamburg to 15 years in prison.

He was the first person in the world to be convicted of charges linked to 11 September.

Mr Mzoudi faces the same charges and the same possible sentence.

Motassadek was widely thought to have incriminated himself during his testimony. Mr Mzoudi is not expected to speak in his own defence after Thursday's statement.

Mr Mzoudi's trial, which was adjourned until Friday, is expected to last into early 2004.

The BBC's Tristana Moore
"The 30-year-old is charged with being an accessory to the murder of more than 3,000 people"


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