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September 11 Suspect Arrested in Germany - 2002-10-10


German authorities have arrested a Moroccan man with suspected links to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States last year. German police and prosecutors have stepped up their investigations into an al-Qaida terrorist cell in Hamburg that spawned three of the four pilots involved in the September 11 attacks.

German federal prosecutors say 29-year-old Abdelghani Mzoudi was arrested Thursday because they suspect he was not only aware of the terrorists' plot but also provided logistical support to members of the Hamburg cell led by Mohammed Atta, who piloted one of the planes that crashed into New York's World Trade Center.

Two of the other pilots who took part in the plot, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, were also members of the cell.

Prosecutors say Mr. Mzoudi shared an apartment with two other cell members, Zakariya Essabar and Ramzi bin al-Shaibah. Zakaria Essabar's whereabouts are unknown, but Ramzi bin al Shaibah was arrested in Pakistan last month and is now in U.S. custody.

Prosecutors say Mr. Mzoudi gave money to Mr. Essabar for flight training lessons in the United States. But Mr. Essabar was denied a U.S. visa and never took those lessons.

German officials say Mr. Mzoudi was also in close contact from 1999 onwards with Mounir el-Motassadeq, a fellow Moroccan who is the only other person being held in Germany in connection with the September 11 attacks. The officials say they have learned that Mr. Mzoudi and Mr. Motassadeq trained at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan at the same time in mid-2000.

Mr. Mzoudi was detained and questioned by police last July and later released. But prosecutors say that their stepped-up investigations into his contacts and activities have led them to conclude that he was what one official called a substantial cog in the Hamburg cell's preparations for the September 11 attacks.

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