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Britain Charges Man Involved in Masood Assassination - 2001-10-30


Britain has charged an Egyptian man living in London with conspiracy in the murder of a leader of Afghanistan's opposition Northern Alliance.

Court papers filed Tuesday in London say Yasser al-Siri, 38, was involved in the September assassination of Ahmad Shah Masood.

Al-Siri is also charged with soliciting funds for al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, a militant Islamic group that claimed responsibility for a 1997 attack at Luxor, Egypt, in which 58 tourists and four Egyptians were killed.

Al-Siri appeared briefly in court on Tuesday, but spoke only once, through an interpreter, to confirm his name. He has previously denied having any links to terrorists.

British anti-terrorist police arrested al-Siri last week to question him about the Masood assassination. British newspapers say al-Siri had provided references to two assassins who traveled from Britain to Pakistan, and then to Afghanistan, to kill Commander Masood.

The assassination occurred on September 8, three days before the terrorist attacks in the United States. U.S. investigators suspect Osama bin Laden wanted to deal a blow to anti-Taleban forces ahead of the attacks against the United States.

Al-Siri was sentenced to death in Egypt for a 1993 assassination attempt against former Prime Minister Atef Sedki. A 12-year-old girl was killed in the attack.

In a separate Egyptian trial two years ago, al-Siri was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for plotting to carry out attacks against officials and police.

Al-Siri has lived in London under political asylum since 1994.

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