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Suspect Accused of Involvement in US Terror Attacks Goes On Trial in Germany - 2003-08-14

Authorities in Hamburg, Germany have begun the trial of a Moroccan man accused of involvement in the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

Alleged terrorist Abdelghani Mzoudi is charged with membership in a terrorist organization and more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder. He is accused of providing logistical support for the lead hijacker in the September 11 attacks, Mohammed Atta, and other members of the Hamburg al-Qaida cell.

Federal Prosecutor Matthias Krauss told the Hamburg court that the suspect's actions were designed to support the terror attacks, and that he was integrated into the plans from the beginning.

The 30-year-old Mr. Mzoudi listened to the charges and occasionally bowed his head or spoke with his lawyers. He could receive up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted. That is the same sentence given to another Moroccan, Mounir el Motassadeq, who was convicted in February on similar charges.

Mr. Mzoudi's lawyers say he will not testify in his own defense, although he did answer the judge's questions and described growing up in Marrakesh. He told the court that his mother taught him good Islamic values, such as not stealing and not killing.

One defense attorney said that the charges contain unproven assumptions and are based on a lack of understanding of other cultures.

Along with the other charges, Mr. Mzoudi is accused of handling financial affairs in Hamburg for Zakaria Essabar, another alleged member of the al-Qaida cell while he was training in Afghanistan at one of Osama bin Laden's camps. Mr. Mzoudi is also accused of helping to hide the whereabouts of Mohammad Atta and another suicide hijacker.