Court told of student's path to 9/11 cockpit

24th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

24 November 2004 , HAMBURG - A former fiancee described to a German court on Wednesday how an easy-going Lebanese student became into an Islamic extremist, and let her sit in a Florida flight simulator as he trained for the 11 September 2001 suicide attacks. She said Ziad Jarrah, who crashed one of four hijacked airliners in a Pennsylvania field, had been lured into extremism by the circle of friends he made when he moved to the German city of Hamburg. The witness, who is Turkish by birth, said she had no

24 November 2004

HAMBURG - A former fiancee described to a German court on Wednesday how an easy-going Lebanese student became into an Islamic extremist, and let her sit in a Florida flight simulator as he trained for the 11 September 2001 suicide attacks.

She said Ziad Jarrah, who crashed one of four hijacked airliners in a Pennsylvania field, had been lured into extremism by the circle of friends he made when he moved to the German city of Hamburg.

The witness, who is Turkish by birth, said she had no inkling of the terrorist attack.

"When I first met Ziad in 1996, he was pretty easy-going," she told the court trying Mounir al-Motassadeq, a Moroccan student accused of membership in the terrorist group.
The change began in 1997, when he moved from Greifswald in provincial Germany to Hamburg.

"His Hamburg acquaintances led to him changing," she said. Jarrah had been studying aircraft-building in Hamburg when he fell in with the group, dominated by Mohammed Atta, apparently the lead suicide pilot.

She said Jarrah decided in spring 2000 to undergo pilot training after he had been  absent for several months.

Investigators say he spent that time in Afghanistan doing military training in an al-Qaeda camp where he was recruited to become a hijack pilot. She said he would not say where he had been, telling her it was better for her not to know.

During his absence, Motassadeq had phoned her once and asked if she was all right. She said that had been her only contact with him or any of Jarrah's Hamburg friends. She was living in Bochum, western Germany at the time.

She said she visited Jarrah in the United States in January 2001 while he was on a flying course after breaking off his university studies. She had sat with him in the "cockpit" of a flight simulator as he was learning to handle the controls of an airliner.

"Ziad didn't want me to tell anyone that he was learning to fly," she said.

Shortly before the attacks on New York and Washington, he had phoned her to say he loved her.

Motassadeq was sentenced in 2003 to 15 years in jail for assisting 3,000 murders and being a member of a terrorist group. An appeal court quashed the verdict on legal grounds and directed a retrial.

DPA

Subject: German news

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