- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 12, 2003

FRANKFURT, Germany Two men suspected of being al Qaeda members were detained in a high-security German prison yesterday to await a decision on their extradition to the United States.
The Yemeni men were arrested early Friday at a hotel near Frankfurt's international airport at the request of the United States, which had sought them as being influential members of Osama bin Laden's terror network.
A judge yesterday ordered the men identified as Mohammed Ali Ahssan al-Moayyed and his aide Said Mohammed Mohsen held until Germany receives a formal U.S. extradition request.
Yemen also seeks to extradite the men to their native country. An extradition hearing is expected next week in Frankfurt, the Justice Ministry said in Berlin.
Mr. Al-Moayyed, 58, is a leading member of Yemen's Islamic-oriented Reform Party and a former legislator. He is the founder and cleric of the Al-Ihsan Mosque and Charity Center in San'a, which includes a medical unit, an orphanage and a bakery for the poor, a Yemeni official said. He was recently re-elected to his party's most senior body.
The Yemeni official says Mr. Al-Moayyed left his country 10 days ago for medical treatment in Germany. But German officials say he is suspected of being responsible for al Qaeda's logistics in Yemen and that Mr. Mohsen is a less important al Qaeda member accompanying him on his travels.
In Yemen, Reform Party member Nabil al-Sufy criticized the arrests as the result of a recent government report that accused opposition parties of backing terrorism.
German and U.S. officials said the men were arrested as part of a terrorism-related investigation between the FBI and Germany. The suspects appeared before a judge at Frankfurt police headquarters yesterday, a court spokesman said.
A helicopter that left the roof of police headquarters yesterday afternoon landed about a half-hour later at the high-security prison in the nearby town of Weiterstadt.
At least one other person, believed to be the judge, was seen leaving the headquarters in a police column with a loose black hood covering her head for security reasons. Streets around the large granite building were blocked off for most of the morning, and traffic was diverted.
Germany's top security official, Interior Minister Otto Schily, praised the court ruling as part of his country's continued assistance to the United States in the war on terrorism.
"This is a welcome sign that, thanks to our good cooperation, we are being successful in our fight against terrorism," Mr. Schily told ZDF television.
FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft also praised the judge's order Friday in a joint statement from Washington.
Because German courts do not recognize extrajudicial holding facilities, such as the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it is likely they will demand the men be brought before a U.S. court. Germany also refuses to extradite anyone who could face the death penalty.

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