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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Moroccan tells of ties with hijackers
Mounir al-Motassadek
Mr Motassadek is accused of supporting the hijackers
A 28-year-old Moroccan man accused of supporting the 11 September hijackers has been closely questioned about his alleged financial involvement in the operation.

Speaking on the second day of his trial in the German city of Hamburg, Mounir al-Motassadek described how he sent money to a suicide hijacker and a suspected accomplice in the year before the terror strikes.

Police outside the Hamburg courthouse
Security around the courthouse is strict

Mr Motassadek went on trial on Tuesday, charged with membership of a terrorist cell and of being an accessory to the murder of more than 3,000 people.

He is the first man to stand trial for the 11 September attacks.

He has denied any knowledge of plans to launch the terror strikes.

Mr Motassadek said he transferred 5,000 marks ($2,500) in early 2001 on behalf of Marwan al-Shehhi, the pilot of the second plane to hit the World Trade Center in New York.

The request for the money had come from another alleged plotter, Ramzi Binalshibh, in a fax from Yemen, he said. Binalshibh was arrested in Pakistan last month.

Mr Motassadek is accused of having managed the bank account of al-Shehhi, which prosecutors say served as a financing pot for an al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg, and was used to pay for flying lessons in the US.

Mounir al-Motassadek
Mr Motassadek is the first alleged plotter to be tried

He also said he gave fugitive German-Moroccan Said Bahaji, who is suspected of helping the attackers, control of his bank account in Hamburg in the summer of 2000.

At the time, Mr Motassadek was at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan.

Prosecutors say he and Mr Bahaji, who is still at large, provided essential logistical support for the suicide hijackers, wiring them money after they left Germany to attend flight training schools in the United States.

Camp visit

On Tuesday, Mr Motassadek told the court that although he was a close friend of the suicide hijackers' alleged ringleader, Mohammed Atta, he had no idea of the planned attacks and said he rejected violence.

Ramzi Binalshibh
Motassadek allegedly sent money to Binalshibh

"Violence cannot solve anything," he said.

But he did confirm for the first time that he had visited a training camp in Afghanistan, which was run by al-Qaeda.

"I learned that [Osama] Bin Laden was responsible for the camp and had been at the camp sometimes," he said.

"I didn't know that beforehand and I didn't meet him either."

He was arrested in Germany in November in the crackdown that followed revelations that the US attacks were partially plotted in Hamburg where he lived and studied.

The only other person to have been charged is Zacarias Moussaoui, a French national whose trial is expected to start in the US in June.

The BBC's Frank Gardner reports from Hamburg
"The first round in this case probably goes to the prosecution"
Joseph Graessler-Muencher, Mounir's former lawyer
"In early 2000, these people split and everybody went their own way"

Key stories

European probe


See also:

22 Oct 02 | Europe
22 Oct 02 | Americas
29 Aug 02 | Americas
29 Aug 02 | Europe
06 Sep 02 | Europe
28 May 02 | Europe
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