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Saturday, 15 September, 2001, 19:04 GMT 20:04 UK
Europe hunts for US clues
The Pentagon
Trails links the US attacks to at least two European countries
Police and intelligence agencies in a number of European countries are working hard to trace any links between their countries and the devastating airborne suicide attacks on the US.

Three of the suspected hijackers are known to have lived in Germany, and Spanish authorities are now investigating a theory that one of these men visited Spain in July, arriving from North Africa.

Mohammed Atta
Mohammed Atta: Possible trip to Spain
Meanwhile Europol said on Saturday that a trail led from the US to Italy, and Swiss police said they were checking whether Switzerland had been used as a transit country, acting on leads from Germany, France, Italy and Austria.

And French intelligence sources were quoted as saying that one of six people arrested on Friday in a joint operation by Dutch and Belgian police had been planning attacks on US targets in France.

After raids on eight addresses in the northern German city of Hamburg on Wednesday night, two of the suspected hijackers were named as Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, both registered in Germany as from the United Arab Emirates.


A trail runs to Italy in connection with some stolen pilot uniforms

Europol director Juergen Storbeck

It is Mohammed Atta who is suspected of visiting the resort of Salou in eastern Spain.

Spanish police are trying to establish who he may have met there.

German authorities have revealed that a third suspected hijacker with links to Hamburg is a 27-year-old Lebanese, Ziad Samir Al-Jarrah.

He is believed to have been one of 20 members of an Islamic association at Hamburg Technical University, which also included Atta and Al-Shehhi, but had also lived for a while at Bochum, in the west of the country.

Weapons seized

Police searched two apartments in Bochum on Friday, and are analysing evidence for links to other people possibly involved in the attacks.

Germany's Federal Prosecutor said on Saturday that no link had so far been found between the Hamburg group and the US's "prime suspect", Osama Bin Laden.

US embassy in Paris
Paris: US embassy may have been targeted
According to Europol Hamburg is the hottest European link to the US attacks, but Italy is also involved.

"A trail runs to Italy in connection with some stolen pilot uniforms," said Europol spokesman Juergen Storbeck.

The six people arrested on Friday in Belgium and the Netherlands have been described as Islamic militants suspected of planning attacks on US targets - but no immediate link has been made with the US hijackings.

Two Uzi machine pistols were found during a house search in a wealthy suburb of Brussels, where two of the six were seized.


Other attacks were planned in the United States and the trail of possible or actual perpetrators leads to various European countries including our country

Swiss Defence Minister Samuel Schmid
Belgian prosecutors will ask an examining magistrate on Monday to charge the suspects with illegal possession of weapons of war.

French media report that one of them - said to be a man of North African origin about 30 years old - was planning to attack targets in France, including the US embassy in Paris.

Belgian police say they are examining a possible connection between one of the people held in Belgium and Osama Bin Laden.

French examining magistrates who have opened an inquiry into possible links between Islamic militants in France and the gang behind the US attacks

They are expected to travel to Belgium on Monday.

Swiss Defence Minister Samuel Schmid said on Friday that other attacks had been planned in the United States and that the trail of possible perpetrators led to Switzerland, among other European countries.

He said Swiss authorities were working closely with the United States, but Europol's Juergen Storbeck called on Saturday for better co-operation with American counterparts.

He said Europol was only receiving "very scarce information" from the US.

See also:

15 Sep 01 | Americas
Worldwide hunt for hijack plotters
14 Sep 01 | Europe
FBI 'ignored leads'
13 Sep 01 | Americas
Hijackers 'known' to FBI
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