German authorities say a Moroccan man they have charged in connection with the September 11 attacks on the United States helped plan the attacks and managed some of the funds used by the terrorists.
Germany's Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm said Mounir El Motassadeq, 28, is charged with being an accessory to the murder of more than 3,000 people. He told reporters in the German town of Karlsruhe that Mr. Motassadeq was an important member of an al-Qaida cell in Hamburg that was probably set up in 1999.
He said the cell included three of the hijackers who were killed in the terrorist attacks in the United States as well as three other men who are still at large.
The prosecutor said Mr. Motassadeq, who was arrested last November in Hamburg, not only was involved in the planning of the attacks but also handled some of the cell's finances, including payment for the suicide pilots' training at U.S. flight schools.
Mr. Nehm disclosed that the Hamburg cell was planning to strike at New York's World Trade Center as early as a year and a half before the actual attack was carried out. He says one of the hijackers, Marwan al-Sehhi, boasted to an acquaintance in April or May, 2000, that thousands of people would die as a result of his actions.
The prosecutor gave a detailed account of how the Hamburg cell was formed and how the hijackers trained for their suicide mission. He also told reporters what investigators have learned about the group's mindset, saying Mr. Motassadeq, like other cell members, hated Jews and Christians and approved of the Taleban in Afghanistan.
"He approved of the mass murder of Jews during National Socialism [the Nazi period]," explained Mr. Nehm. "He approved of terror acts and approved of the violent conversion of infidels to Islam. Afghanistan was a model country for the accused."
Mr. Nehm said the cell members shared the same religious convictions, an Islamic lifestyle and a feeling of being out of place in unfamiliar cultural surroundings. He said they rejected Western society and its values and vowed to defend the Muslim world against non-Muslims.
Mr. Motassadeq, the only person charged so far in Germany for aiding and abetting the September 11 terrorist attacks, has denied being involved in the plot.