- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 4 (UPI) — Interpol officers interrogated a Saudi and a Lebanese, who have been on trial in Lebanon on charges of attempting to establish a camp for al Qaida, al-Mustaqbal newspaper reported Tuesday.

Al-Mustaqbal quoted "well-informed" sources as saying that Interpol officers from Germany, Australia and Canada recently visited Beirut to question Saudi Ihab Dafaa and Mohammed Sultan, a Lebanese who also has the Australian citizenship.

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The interrogation, which was conducted through sworn translators, focused on the activities, relations and contacts of Dafaa and Sultan abroad with "people suspected of belonging to al Qaida."

The sources said there was no evidence in the suspects' involvement in al Qaida contacts abroad.

Two other Lebanese, Khaled Minawi and Abdallah al-Mohtadi, have undergone similar questioning by Interpol officers from Togo and Turkey.

The trial of Dafaa, the three Lebanese and other suspects of Arab and Turkish nationalities opened Monday night. They were charged of forming a terrorist organization and attempting to carry out terrorist actions by establishing an al Qaida camp in Lebanon.

Dafaa and Sultan denied the charges of belonging to al Qaida, saying they work in the import-export business.

They however admitted having secured donations to help refugees and anti-U.S. fighters in Afghanistan. They said Saudi suspect Salman Salman, who is still at large, told them that he tried along some 300 people to enter Afghanistan from Iran to take part in the war there after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Dafaa and the three Lebanese were arrested last September. Their trial was to resume next Monday.

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