Jail sought for terror 'spy'

19th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

19 November 2003, DUESSELDORF - German authorities called Wednesday for a Palestinian who turned state's evidence against other terrorists to be given a reduced, five-year prison term for spying out Jewish premises to bomb.

19 November 2003

DUESSELDORF - German authorities called Wednesday for a Palestinian who turned state's evidence against other terrorists to be given a reduced, five-year prison term for spying out Jewish premises to bomb.

The defendant, named only as Shadi Mohammed Mustafa A., 27, has admitted he associated with Jordanian terror group al-Tawhid, knew of planned terror attacks in Germany, and forged passports. He said the attacks were to have hit Jewish facilities in Berlin and Duesseldorf.

In closing arguments at his Duesseldorf trial on Wednesday, a federal prosecutor said A. was a full-fledged member of al-Tawhid's German cell by August 2001 at the latest and prepared for attacks in the two cities, though no actual bombings ever took place.

A. told the court Wednesday, "I know I have brought guilt upon myself and I deserve to be punished," concluding, "I apologize for the mistakes I have made and beg for pardon."

Defence counsel called for a "lighter sentence". The bench is expected to hand down a verdict on 26 November.

A. has made a series of extraordinary disclosures in court, including the claim, doubted by some commentators, that he had briefly been a personal bodyguard to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Reviewing the evidence, the prosecutor said he had no doubt whatever this was true. Large amounts of A.'s testimony were credible and provided "inside knowledge" about the cell: "If he were a fantasist, he would have quickly been caught up in contradictions."

Some of his testimony had been confirmed by other terrorism suspects or matched findings of German intelligence agencies.

The prosecution said it scaled back its recommendation for a penalty because A. had made a comprehensive confession, noting that he would have walked out of court a free man if he had been tried four years earlier.

A German law that expired in 1999 amnestied terrorists who informed on their fellows.

A. had provided a "mass of detail" about al-Tawhid, al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

The prosecution said his guilt was also lessened because he was an "unstable, easily influenced person" who had stumbled into Islamist terrorism more or less by chance. A., who has a Jordanian passport, was arrested 18 months ago and has been in custody since.

His counsel told the court A. had not done wrong out of conviction, but needed friends and fell in with the wrong people. After his arrest he had renounced the Islamists, helped the authorities and would continue to testify if needed.

Prosecutors said there would have been bomb attacks and bloodshed in Germany if police had not swooped on the half dozen al-Tawhid activists in time.

The targets the cell was considering comprised a Jewish synagogue and community centre in Berlin's Fasanenstrasse and a bar in Dusseldorf popular with Jewish residents as well as a city nightclub with a Jewish owner.


DPA


Subject: German news

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