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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
German police raid 'terror link firm'
A view of Hamburg
Hamburg has been a focus of terror inquiries in Europe
German police have raided the premises of an import-export firm suspected of being a cover for the smuggling of Islamic fundamentalists into the country.

The company's manager along with his wife and their two sons were being questioned for possible links to people involved in the 11 September attacks, the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Map of Germany showing Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein
The family was being held on suspicion of membership of a criminal organisation, the statement said.

Federal prosecutors said the company, with premises in Hamburg and the adjacent state of Schleswig-Holstein, was suspected of being a cover for the trafficking of Islamic fundamentalists and having contacts to such groups.

Officials said they were also investigating allegations that the family was involved in faking documents and making financial contributions to violent Islamists and offering financial and logistical support to a similar international network.

Hamburg's al-Qaeda links
Three 11 September hijackers believed to have plotted attack in the city
Moroccan resident charged with aiding al-Qaeda
Hamburg businessman named as having links to Osama Bin Laden
The statement said the family was suspected of having links to "relevant Islamic extremist circles, in particular to people who are being investigated in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks".

Their aim, by providing logistical support such as false paperwork as well as money laundering, was to help an Islamic fundamentalist "holy war", the statement said.

Hamburg has been a key part of investigations in Europe into the 11 September attacks on the US by Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Hijackers' home

Three of the men who hijacked the planes that were crashed in New York and Washington spent time in Hamburg preparing the attack.

Mounir al-Motassadek
Terror suspect Mounir al-Motassadek was arrested in Hamburg

German prosecutors also recently accused a 28-year-old Moroccan man, Mounir al-Motassadek, of helping an al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg and being an accessory to the murders of more than 3,000 people in the 11 September attacks.

The suspicions about the Hamburg import-export firm were raised by what investigators called "atypical business behaviour".

They stressed the inquiry was not focussing on Hamburg businessman Marmoun Darkanzali, a Syrian, who has been accused of having links to Bin Laden in numerous press reports and by US President George W Bush in the past.


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European probe

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IN DEPTH
See also:

06 Sep 02 | Europe
29 Aug 02 | Europe
24 Aug 02 | Americas
24 Oct 01 | Europe
03 Sep 02 | Business
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