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Authorities believe Moroccan national Abdeladim el-Kebir, 31, served as the ringleader and received orders from an unidentified senior al Qaeda operative while attending a weapons training camp on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Also in the dock are German-Moroccan national Jamil Seddiki, 32; German-Iranian Amid Chaabi, 21; and German citizen Halil Simsek, 28.

Police arrested three of the four men in April last year and the fourth in December after months of surveillance following Mr. el-Kebir’s return from the militants’ training camp.

They said the group had been experimenting with various chemicals to build their own bomb.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports