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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Motassadek's alleged role
Ground Zero
The group is said to have planned the attack in 1999
Mounir al-Motassadek, a 28-year-old Moroccan citizen arrested in Hamburg two months after the 11 September attacks, has been charged with more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder and belonging to a terrorist group.

Giving details of the charges at a press conference in Karlsruhe, German Prosecutor-General Kay Nehm said Mr Motassadek was accused of "participation in a terrorist organisation".

Mounir el-Motassedek
Motassedek is charged with being an accessory to more than 3,000 counts of murder
He was officially charged on Wednesday with helping members of the Hamburg cell of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, blamed for hijacking four airliners and crashing them into targets in the United States last year.

Mr Motassadek is suspected of being a member of al-Qaeda.

He was said to be responsible for supporting the suicide pilots while they were in America and arranging and financing their activities, including paying for flight schools in Florida.

Hamburg cell

Mr Nehm said an attack on the US was planned from Hamburg by members of an al-Qaeda cell - including Mr Motassadek - at the latest in 1999.

He was just as involved in preparing the attacks up until the end

Kay Nehm, German federal prosecutor

He said six months later the cell had decided on its target.

Mr Nehm said Mr Motassadek was part of a group which, in the summer of 1999, formed an organisation in Hamburg.

The prosecutor-general said the group had a violent Islamic ideology aimed at attacking countries such as the US.

The organisation is said to have been part of an international network of what was described as fundamentalist Islamic terrorists.

Afghanistan training

Members of the group were said to have met at two addresses in Hamburg - one of them being a student flat shared by Mohamed Atta and other suspects of the 11 September hijacks.

World Trade Center attacked
Prosecutors say el-Motassadek handled funds used for the attacks
Atta, who is suspected of piloting one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, is believed to have been the leader of the group.

In November 1999, the group was said to have become more radicalised, focusing its attentions on the international Jewish community.

Investigators believe that it was around this time that the group came up with the idea to carry out attacks in the US against American targets.

The target of the attack was said to have been finalised some months later.

Logistics

The group are said to have flown to Afghanistan to finalise plans for the attack; Mr Motassadek is believed to have returned to Hamburg in August, 2000, and other members of the group flew on to the US to attend flight training courses.

Mr Motassadek remained in Hamburg, but is said to have been involved with the financing of the pilots in the US.

He had power of attorney over an bank account in Hamburg. Investigators say money in an account set up by Atta in Florida was traced to this account.

"The accused was just as involved in preparing the attacks up until the end as the others who remained in Hamburg," Mr Nehm said.

"He was aware of the commitment to mount a terror attack against the targets chosen by the cell and he supported the planning and preparation for these attacks through multiple activities," he said.


Key stories

European probe

Background

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See also:

09 Aug 02 | Americas
01 May 02 | Americas
16 Aug 02 | Americas
25 Apr 02 | Business
29 Aug 02 | Americas
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