Court remands al-Qaeda suspects in custody
25 January 2005 , KARLSRUHE - Two men suspected of being al-Qaeda supporters have been remanded in custody by a German federal court in Karlsruhe, after they were arrested for allegedly plotting a suicide bombing in Iraq. Police say a 29-year-old Iraqi who had previously served as an al- Qaeda gunman in Afghanistan was believed to be recruiting for suicide attacks against US forces and the interim government in Iraq. A 31-year-old Palestinian medical student was believed to be the recruit who had agreed to
25 January 2005
KARLSRUHE - Two men suspected of being al-Qaeda supporters have been remanded in custody by a German federal court in Karlsruhe, after they were arrested for allegedly plotting a suicide bombing in Iraq.
Police say a 29-year-old Iraqi who had previously served as an al- Qaeda gunman in Afghanistan was believed to be recruiting for suicide attacks against US forces and the interim government in Iraq.
A 31-year-old Palestinian medical student was believed to be the recruit who had agreed to "martyrdom" at the wheel of a car bomb.
Members of the media were able to see one of the suspects, handcuffed and wearing a white raincoat, as he was led from a police van into the court building to be arraigned before examining magistrates in Karlsruhe, southern Germany.
The media were excluded from the day-long hearing on Monday. A court spokesman announced the remand orders, saying the Iraqi was suspected of membership in a foreign terrorist organization and the Palestinian of being a supporter of the group.
German authorities say the Iraqi had attended al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan before the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, and had spent a year in Afghanistan afterwards fighting US forces.
Prosecutors said there was no indication the men were planning attacks in Germany, but they seemed to have used Europe as a safe haven in much the same way as the pilots who led the 9-11 suicide attacks on New York and Washington.
In the western German city of Mainz where the Iraqi, identified as Ibrahim Mohamed K., was arrested Sunday, a police spokesman admitted to Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that K. had been vetted after the 2001 attacks, but police had missed warning signs.
On SWR television, interior official Karl Peter Bruch said a tip- off from the public had led to months of surveillance of K. culminating in the arrest of the two men.
Police discounted any connection with a visit to Mainz in four weeks by US President George W. Bush for talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
"The security level was already at maximum. Yesterday's arrest can't change that," said a spokesman.
City residents expressed shock.
In the downtown street where he lived, a saleswoman at a chemist's shop said: "It sends shivers down my spine that I might have served him." A 63-year-old woman pensioner chimed in, "It's horrible. I thought these terrorists only lived in big cities like Berlin."
City police said they knew little about the man, who reportedly did casual work for a local gardening business. Prosecutors said he had been in Germany since 1997 and had unsuccessfully applied for political asylum.
Germany is not currently deporting people to Iraq because of the conflict there. It remained unclear how the man had entered and exited the country despite lacking an official residence permit.
"We can't say anything about his residency," said a Mainz immigration official. "I only know about him from the newspapers."
According to prosecutors, the man had also plotted a fraudulent insurance claim to raise money for his militant plans.
Prosecutors say the Iraqi was also suspected of trying to help acquire nuclear materials. An attempt to gain 48 grams of enriched uranium in Luxembourg failed, Prosecutor-General Kay Nehm said.
Federal prosecutors said the other man, Yasser Abu-S., a medical student, was detained in the western city of Bonn.
Prosecutors described him as stateless, but some media reports said he has Egyptian citizenship.
He had been in Germany since November 1996 and had a visa until March 30 this year. Officials said that would most likely have been extended as he had recently married a German citizen.
Subject: German news