- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

BERLIN Federal prosecutors filed charges yesterday against a Moroccan man who is the only suspect linked to the September 11 attacks in custody in Germany, where several of the hijackers were based.

Mounir El Motassadeq, 28, was charged in a Hamburg superior court "because of his participation in the terror attacks in the United States on September 11," the federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe said. It did not announce specific charges.

El Motassadeq was picked up Nov. 28 at his Hamburg apartment on suspicions he had "intensive contacts" with the September 11 hijackers who had been living in Hamburg, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, Marwan Al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah.

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Prosecutors in the past accused El Motassadeq of running Al-Shehhi's bank account, using it to finance the hijacker's stay in the United States and his flight training in Florida.

El Motassadeq's name appeared on a U.S. list of 370 individuals and organizations with suspected links to the September 11 attacks that Finnish financial authorities made public in October. When contacted at that time by the Associated Press, El Motassadeq angrily denied any involvement.

"All of this is false. I have nothing to do with this thing," he said before hanging up.

Germany has issued international arrest warrants for Ramsi Binalshibh, Said Bahaji and Zakariya Essabar, who all also lived in Hamburg at one time, but El Motassadeq is the only person who has been arrested in the country in connection with the attacks.

El Motassadeq, a Moroccan citizen, has been an electrical engineering student at Hamburg's Technical University since 1995 the same school where Atta, 33, and Al-Shehhi, 23, studied before leaving Germany last year for the United States.

In an October television interview, El Motassadeq admitted having power of attorney on Al-Shehhi's account but said he never made any transfers. He said he knew Atta and some of the other hijackers, and visited the apartment where Atta, Al-Shehhi and others lived.

El Motassadeq said he had signed Atta's will, as did others at the al-Quds mosque, and attended Bahaji's 1999 wedding there in a ceremony that also included Atta, Al-Shehhi, Jarrah and Essabar.

From 1996 to 1998, El Motassadeq worked as a cleaner at the Hamburg airport and had access to secure areas and aircraft. He passed a routine security check in 1996 before starting the job.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, FBI and Pakistani law enforcement officers on Tuesday raided an office used by an organization linked to al Qaeda, arresting 12 men and seizing explosives and weapons.

Police said they believed the militants were working with al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives to carry out terror attacks inside Pakistan. A judge ordered them held pending further investigation.

Officials said the building was used by the outlawed Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen, a militant group with close ties to al Qaeda that fights in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir.

Two of those arrested were Afghans and the rest were Pakistanis, police said. Earlier, a police official said the group included foreigners from Arab or Muslim countries.

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