U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says three men are being sought in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Mr. Ashcroft says the suspects are members of a terrorist cell based in Germany.

In a joint news conference with German Interior Minister Otto Schily, Attorney General Ashcroft announced that Germany has issued international arrest warrants for the three men. "Said Bahaji, Ramsi Binalshibh and Zakariya Essabar are all wanted for membership in a terrorist organization that has existed since at least 1999 in both Germany and the United States," he said. "Bahaji, Binalshibh, and Essabar are sought for planning and carrying out the attacks of September 11, 2001."

Mr. Ashcroft says the three men have extensive connections to three of the hijackers who flew planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

The attorney general says Mr. Binalshibh, a Yemeni citizen, Mr. Bahaji, a German citizen, and Mr. Essabar, a Moroccan citizen, all left Germany in early September.

German Interior Minister Schily says his country is planning to boost security measures. "I am preparing new legislation to do so, to give police better access to data, better cooperation between those authorities who give visas and police, to have better control measures, to have better identification measures," he said.

Attorney General Ashcroft says 12 agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been assigned to assist German authorities in their probe.