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Hamburg Police Trace Movements of Suspected Terrorists - 2001-09-16


Police in a number of European countries are trying to trace the movements of several individuals suspected of involvement in last Tuesday's terror attacks in New York and Washington. The investigation continues to be concentrated on the German city of Hamburg, where authorities say three of the suspects shared an apartment.

The German Federal Prosecutor's office is now focusing its attention on Ziad Samir Jarrah, a Lebanese who was aboard a hijacked airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania. That plane, believed by some U.S. officials to have been heading for the White House or the presidential retreat at Camp David, went down at about the same time as two jets crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and a third hit the Pentagon.

The prosecutor's office says Mr. Jarrah lived in Hamburg, but frequently visited the western German town of Bochum, where his girlfriend reported him missing after the attacks. It says it is analyzing evidence found in two Bochum apartments for links that could lead to contacts or accomplices of the suspects.

The German daily newspaper, Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, quoting German security sources, reports Mr. Jarrah studied at Hamburg's technical university, before leaving last year to attend flying school in Florida. It says that, while he was in Hamburg, Mr. Jarrah belonged to an Islamic group led by Mohammed Atta, who has been named by U.S. authorities as a suspected hijacker of the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. Mr. Atta also attended a flight school in Florida, as did another of his Hamburg associates, Marwan al-Shehhi. Mr. Shehhi is suspected by U.S. investigators of having been aboard the second plane that crashed into the Trade Center.

Meanwhile, Belgian police are holding two North Africans arrested Thursday, whom they describe as belonging to a radical Islamic movement. One of the men has been charged with attempted destruction of buildings with explosives, possession of a weapon of war, and with violation of Belgian law pertaining to private militias. The second man is charged with criminal association. But police are not giving further details.

French news media claim the men planned to attack the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Two French magistrates will be in Brussels on Monday to interrogate the men.

German and Belgian investigators say they have no evidence linking any of the leads they are pursuing to Osama bin Laden, the man Washington has named as a prime suspect in the terror attacks. The head of the European Union's fledgling law enforcement arm, Europol, has warned against rushing to blame Mr. Bin Laden as the mastermind behind the attacks. Juergen Stoerbeck told the London Daily Telegraph that many people share Mr. Bin Laden's philosophy, and may even have been at his training camps. But that, says Mr. Stoerbeck, does not necessarily mean that they take orders from him.

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