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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
German police arrest wanted Algerian
Raid on Hamburg bookshop
The seven men detained in Hamburg were released
Police in the German city of Stuttgart have arrested a suspected member of the militant Algerian organisation, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA).

The man, who is 57, is wanted in France for involvement in the attempted murder of the leader of a Paris mosque.

Prosecutors in Stuttgart have not named him, but say that last March, a court in Paris sentenced him in his absence to five years in jail for his part in the murder plot.

On Wednesday, German police raided a bookshop and six apartments in Hamburg and detained seven people, who were released after questioning.

Mohammed Atta
One of the Hamburg men is suspected of having had contacts with Atta

The Algerian was arrested on Monday while living in Stuttgart as an asylum seeker and is being held on an international arrest warrant, pending a decision on extradition.

He is believed to be a high-ranking member of the extremist GIA - a group which has been widely active in France, and was blamed for a series of deadly bombings in the mid-1990s.

But the GIA is not thought to have had an active presence in Germany.

The BBC Berlin correspondent says the move once again puts Germany at the centre of European investigations into extremist Islamic activity.

Hamburg raids

One of the seven men detained in Hamburg and identified just as Abdelghani M is suspected of having had contact with Mohammed Atta, the mastermind of the 11 September attacks in the US who was based in the German city.

None of the men arrested are suspected of involvement in the suicide plot itself.

But a five-month surveillance operation suggested some members of the group wanted to become martyrs for Islam.

See also:

14 Jun 02 | Africa
28 May 02 | Europe
11 Dec 01 | Europe
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