- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 23, 2001

The terrorists who assaulted America Sept. 11 are believed to have used cash laundered through worldwide money exchanges to finance the suicide mission, including outlets in the United States, Germany's interior minister said yesterday.
But Otto Schily, in Washington to visit with Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI and CIA officials, declined during a breakfast meeting with reporters to identify the exchanges or to say how much cash was involved, adding only that German investigators continue to look at the "relevance of some financial relations."
Germany has figured prominently in the FBI probe of the Sept. 11 attacks as a country where several of the 19 hijackers who flew jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon lived, studied and conspired against U.S. targets.
"I don't want to mention some names, but it also includes the role of some companies doing the exchange of money and delivering money," he said. "Maybe they are situated in the United States. These kinds of money exchange systems are worldwide. I'm not saying they are involved in criminal actions but maybe some of these systems are used by criminals and therefore we must have the cooperation of these companies."
Meanwhile, the FBI yesterday widened its probe into the delivery of anthrax-laced letters in Washington, D.C., Florida and New York after the suspected anthrax deaths of two postal workers who handled mail for the U.S. Capitol. The probe also focused on New Jersey, the source of at least three anthrax-tainted letters that went through a mail facility in Trenton.
FBI agents want to know not only the source of the anthrax, but the specific strains used and how and where the plan to mail the letters was formulated. Included in the probe are the questions of how and where the anthrax was finely milled to make it airborne and whether the bacterium was electrostatically charged so it would not remain stuck to the envelopes but spread into the air when opened.
Also, Mississippi health officials yesterday were analyzing samples taken from a towboat after a crop-dusting plane sprayed the boat and a pleasure craft. The state Health Department said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had asked the state to test for certain substances, which it did not identify, and those were being conducted.
In the incident south of Helena, Miss., on Friday, the skipper of a Mississippi River towboat reported being sprayed by a low-flying crop-duster. A pleasure craft was also sprayed but the craft has not yet been found. Ten crew members of the towboat were given Cipro, the drug used to counter anthrax, as a precautionary measure.
Federal authorities grounded crop-dusting flights nationwide last month after the FBI discovered that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers had made inquiries about crop-dusters.
The FBI probe of anthrax hoaxes also saw the arrest yesterday of Ronnie Lamar Williams, 26, of Dallas, charged with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction. An affidavit supporting the complaint said that on Oct. 16, Mr. Williams left a phone message at an Arlington, Texas, law firm in which he threatened to send the firm a package containing anthrax. However, no package was ever received.
Mr. Schily's visit to the United States comes as the FBI shifted the focus of much of its investigation to Germany, where authorities in that country have issued arrest warrants for two men believed to have been accomplices in the attacks on New York and Washington, including Zakariya Essabar, 24, of Morocco. The other person's name has not been disclosed.
German police believe the men had close ties to Mohamed Atta, 33, an Egyptian named as the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks. Atta is believed to have been at the controls of American Airlines Flight 11 when it hit the World Trade Center's north tower.
Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, 23, of the United Arab Emirates, are believed by German authorities to be members of a group of islamic terrorists in Hamburg who planned attacks on U.S. targets. Alshehhi was named as the pilot aboard United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the south tower.
Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, German police found "airplane-related documents" in a suitcase belonging to Ziad Jarrah, 26, of Lebanon, another of the 19 hijackers. The suitcase was seized in Bochum, Germany, at the apartment of Jarrah's girlfriend. He was aboard United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in western Pennsylvania.
During the lengthy press briefing, Mr. Schily also said German police had found no evidence that a foreign government was involved in the spread of anthrax-laced letters in the United States.
He also said Germany and other nations need to develop better ways to screen and profile potential terrorists among students who obtain visas to study and others whose actions fail to raise suspicions. He said that type of information including data on financial transactions might have forewarned of terrorist activities in Germany.
Mr. Schily also disputed suggestions that some of the hijackers plotted the attacks exclusively in Germany, noting that some of the 19 air pirates received flight training in the United States and that 11 others had visited Britain.
"It is not true that only Germany is the headquarters of terrorism," he said. "It is a widespread worldwide network and we shouldn't play what we call the black Peter game" of picking a scapegoat.
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Sarah Means contributed to this report.

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