Palestinian jailed in terrorist case

26th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

26 November 2003 , DUESSELDORF - A 27-year-old Palestinian who surveyed Jewish premises in Germany for bombing attacks was jailed for four years Wednesday for being a member of a Moslem terrorist group allied with al-Qaeda. Shadi Mohammed Mustafa Abdalla was convicted of being a member of Jordanian-based al-Tawhid. Germany has banned the group and arrested a cell comprising half a dozen young Arabs. The rest are to go on trial in a few weeks. Abdalla is expected to testify against them. In weeks of dramati

26 November 2003

DUESSELDORF - A 27-year-old Palestinian who surveyed Jewish premises in Germany for bombing attacks was jailed for four years Wednesday for being a member of a Moslem terrorist group allied with al-Qaeda.

Shadi Mohammed Mustafa Abdalla was convicted of being a member of Jordanian-based al-Tawhid. Germany has banned the group and arrested a cell comprising half a dozen young Arabs. The rest are to go on trial in a few weeks. Abdalla is expected to testify against them.

In weeks of dramatic testimony, a repentant Abdalla described how he had for a time been assigned to bodyguard duty for Osama bin Laden while training in Afghanistan. German intelligence believes al-Tawhid shares some of al-Qaeda's aims and uses its facilities.

Prosecutors had sought a five-year sentence for the defendant, well short of the maximum 15 years, saying he was entitled to leniency because he had provided so much information about the inner workings of the group.

In a speech from the dock last week, Abdalla said, "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."

Presiding Judge Ottmar Breidling indicated he would have let Abdalla off without penalty if rules allowing plea bargains for terrorists had still been in place in Germany.

The judge appealed to the German government to reinstate legislation that expired in 1999 allowing amnesty for terrorists who testified against their fellows. That rule was "indispensable if we are to fight organized terrorism", Breidling said.

In more than 20 days of testimony, Abdalla admitted he had associated with al-Tawhid, knew of planned terror attacks in Germany, and forged passports. No actual bombings ever took place.

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

The state superior court praised police, who were on the group's trail early on as a result of tapping international phone calls, for "doing the right thing at the right time", but said the early arrests had made it difficult to present evidence in court.

The bomb-making materials had not been delivered yet, and the only weapon police seized was a pistol.

The court was told that Abu-Mussab Sarkawi, the leader of al- Tawhid, had been eager to mount attacks in Germany in the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

The Germans took no chances when arresting Abdalla, with a squad of heavily armed elite police sneaking up on him and overpowering him at a bus stop in the provincial city of Krefeld, close to the Dutch border.

Abdalla, who has a Jordanian passport, told the court how he had left home after friction with his family and taken low-paid jobs in Germany before making the acquaintance of militants living there.

Security has been tight at the hearings over Abdalla in Dusseldorf, but will be tighter still when the other men go on trial: a special attack-proof building is being constructed to ensure there are no breakouts or attempts to free them.

DPA
Subject: German news

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