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Another Sept. 11th Suspect Charged

Another Sept. 11th Suspect Charged

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BERLIN (AP) -- Prosecutors on Friday charged a Moroccan friend of Sept. 11 suicide pilot Mohamed Atta as an accessory in the attacks, the second suspected member of the al-Qaida cell in Hamburg to be indicted in Germany.

Abdelghani Mzoudi, 30, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. He was also charged with belonging to a terrorist organization.

Mzoudi has denied any involvement in the attacks, saying that although he knew Atta and others in the cell he knew nothing of their plans. He was arrested in Hamburg on Oct. 10 after a yearlong investigation.

In a statement, prosecutors said Mzoudi was accused of providing logistical support for the Hamburg cell and helping its members pass for students to elude authorities. He was charged with 3,066 counts of accessory to murder and membership in a terrorist organization.

"The accused was, like the other members of the cell who remained in Hamburg, integrated until the end in the preparations for the attacks," the statement said. "He was aware of the group's aim to carry out terrorist attacks and supported the planning and preparation of the attacks."

Mzoudi roomed with Mounir el Motassadeq, a fellow Moroccan who in February became the first Sept. 11 suspect to be convicted for his part in the attacks.

El Motassadeq was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the same Hamburg state court that is also expected to try Mzoudi. No trial date has been set.

German investigators questioned Mzoudi last summer when they raided an Islamic bookstore in Hamburg believed to be a meeting place for fundamentalists planning new attacks.

But they lacked sufficient evidence to arrest him until a witness placed Mzoudi in Afghan training camps in 2000, at the same time as el Motassadeq and Zakariya Essabar, also suspected of membership in the Hamburg cell. El Motassadeq later testified he had run into Mzoudi in Afghanistan.

"The trips served above all to consult with Osama bin Laden and his followers on the targets for the attacks and details of their preparation," prosecutors said.

They accused Mzoudi of helping cover up cell members' trips to Afghanistan and looking after Essabar's financial affairs while the latter was in Afghanistan from early 2000 until August 2000.

Prosecutors said Mzoudi transferred $929 to Essabar to finance planned flight training in the United States at the end of 2000 or beginning of 2001.

Mzoudi also allegedly secured a room in Hamburg for suicide pilot Marwan al-Shehhi and for Ramzi Binalshibh, believed to be the key contact between the Hamburg cell and al-Qaida, before their planned departure for the United States in the spring of 2000.

He also allowed Atta and al-Shehhi to use his Hamburg street address for correspondence to deflect attention from their absence when they were in Afghanistan, prosecutors said.

Mzoudi lived for a time in a Hamburg apartment that at various times was used by Atta, al-Shehhi, Binalshibh, Essabar and Said Bahaji, another suspected al-Qaida planner.

Binalshibh was captured in Pakistan last Sept. 11 and is in U.S. custody. Bahaji and Essabar are wanted on German arrest warrants.

Mzoudi also lived with el Motassadeq, who knew his parents from Marrakech, when both began studying electrical engineering at Hamburg's Technical University in 1995. Atta, al-Shehhi and other cell members also studied there.

Mzoudi left the school in 1997 and began a similar program the following year at Hamburg's School for Applied Sciences, where the third Hamburg-based pilot, Ziad Jarrah, was a student.

In an October 2001 interview with Der Spiegel news magazine, Mzoudi said he had signed Atta's will and often met him and other cell members to discuss politics, eat or pray. But he said he was not involved in the Sept. 11 plot.

"I was totally shocked when I heard that Atta may have had something to do with the attacks," Mzoudi said. "I can't imagine a Muslim would do something like that -- a Muslim would never do in children, elderly and women."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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