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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 16:53 GMT
Man charged over dead rebel leader
Ahmed Shah Masood
Ahmed Shah Masood was known as The Lion of Panjshir
An Egyptian man living in London has been charged with conspiracy to murder the late Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Masood.

Yasser al-Siri, 38, has been committed for trial at the Old Bailey charged with conspiring with others to murder Mr Masood, who was assassinated in Afghanistan on 9 September.

He allegedly provided a letter, through his London-based Islamic Observation Centre, vouching for two Arab journalists seeking an interview with Mr Masood.

Yasser al-Siri
Yasser al-Siri was director of the Islamic Observation Center in London
The two men, believed to be agents of the Taleban, blew themselves up when they were in Mr Masood's company. He died from his wounds a few days later.

Mr al-Siri, a book publisher, appeared amid high security at Belmarsh magistrates' court in south east London on Tuesday morning.

He was arrested at an address in Maida Vale, west London a week ago, and has also been charged with inviting support for a banned organisation, Gamaa al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group).

Gamaa al-Islamiyya is an Islamic militant group which was blamed for the 1997 massacre of 58 tourists at Luxor in Egypt.

Racial hatred

Mr al-Siri has also been charged with inviting funds for the purpose of terrorism and making available property for the purposes of terrorism.

He is also accused of stirring up racial hatred by publishing 3,000 copies of a book which called for the killing of Jews.

Tuesday's hearing was delayed for about an hour after Mr al-Siri was taken ill.

A bail application by Mr al-Siri's solicitor, Gareth Peirce, was refused and he was remanded in custody by Judge Timothy Workman to appear at the Old Bailey on 7 November.

The BBC's John Andrew
reports from Belmarsh Magistrates Court
See also:

11 Sep 01 | South Asia
Profile: The Lion of Panjshir
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