- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 25, 2002

BERLIN German investigators said yesterday they believe that Mohamed Atta and two other September 11 hijackers trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan from late 1999 to early 2000, providing their most detailed evidence yet of a link between the Hamburg terror cell and Osama bin Laden's network.
Germany's Federal Criminal Office, the country's equivalent of the FBI, also revealed new evidence that an April 11 truck bombing at a Tunisian synagogue that killed 19 persons, most of them German tourists, was the work of al Qaeda.
Atta, the suspected ringleader of the September 11 hijackers, was in Afghan training camps at about the same time as four other Arabs from Hamburg, said Federal Criminal Office spokesman Norbert Unger, confirming a New York Times report quoting the agency's head, Klaus Ulrich Kersten.
Two of the men, Ziad Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi, are suspected of piloting planes hijacked in the September 11 suicide attacks. Two others, Said Bahaji and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, left Germany shortly before the attacks and are being sought on German warrants charging them with complicity.
"They were there during the same time period, but it's not clear whether they were together," Mr. Unger said.
By summer 2000, Atta, al-Shehhi and Jarrah were attending flight schools in the United States. Mr. al-Shibh tried several times to get a U.S. visa but was rejected, investigators have said.
Atta and al-Shehhi are believed to have piloted the two jetliners that smashed into the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center on September 11. Jarrah is believed to have taken the controls of the jet that crashed in Pennsylvania.
German investigators also say they have new evidence pointing to an al Qaeda link in the Tunisian synagogue bombing.
The suspected bomber, Nizar Naouar, spoke by phone about three hours before the attack with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, a Kuwaiti native whom U.S. officials identified in June as a top bin Laden lieutenant and the suspected chief organizer of the September 11 attacks, Mr. Unger said.
U.S. officials have said that Mr. Mohammed repeatedly visited Hamburg, though they had not received direct evidence of any contacts between him and Atta.
Since the synagogue bombing on the Tunisian resort island of Djerba, U.S. and German officials have indicated that they suspect al Qaeda was behind the attack, but not in such detail.
Mr. Naouar, a Tunisian, is believed to have died in the blast, caused by a gas-filled truck driven in front of the synagogue.

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