Palestinian terrorist trio jailed by German court
26 October 2005, DUSSELDORF - A trio of Palestinians who plotted to bomb a synagogue and a Jewish-owned bar in Germany on orders from Abu-Mussab al-Zarqawi, alleged kingpin of many Iraq terrorist bombings, were jailed for up to eight years Wednesday by a German court.
26 October 2005
DUSSELDORF - A trio of Palestinians who plotted to bomb a synagogue and a Jewish-owned bar in Germany on orders from Abu-Mussab al-Zarqawi, alleged kingpin of many Iraq terrorist bombings, were jailed for up to eight years Wednesday by a German court.
The judge said it was fortunate that German intelligence had listened in on a Zarqawi phone call and arrested the group in April 2002 before they were able to obtain guns or explosives.
An Algerian trader who had agreed to sell the trio weapons and fake identity papers was jailed for five years.
The court heard how the group surveyed a Jewish community centre in Berlin, the bar in the western German city of Dusseldorf and another nightspot as potential targets and also considered blowing up a German baker after wrongly identifying him as Jewish.
The call from Zarqawi, who allegedly used a satellite phone from somewhere in Iran, was tapped shortly after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the United States. Zarqawi later moved to Iraq to lead a campaign of bomb attacks on Iraq's Shiites, police and U.S. soldiers.
When the bomb plans in Germany made slow progress, Zarqawi phoned again and became angry, the transcripts showed. His group, al-Tawhid, is allied to the Qaeda terror network of Osama bin Laden.
The court in Dusseldorf convicted the trio of membership in a terrorist group and convicted the Algerian of being a helper.
The court said they were motivated by "utter hatred of Jews, Israel and all infidels".
Typical of the group was bearded Abu-D., 41, who had been a member of Jordan's national basketball team and a singer before he joined the PLO in 1992 and was drawn into the orbit of the Islamists.
His full name has been withheld under German reporting guidelines. Abu-D. received the severest sentence, eight years, on Wednesday.
Germany's outgoing federal interior minister, Otto Schily, praised the verdict as necessary for a strict war on terrorism.
The group, who were behind bulletproof glass but under only light guard in line with German custom, yelled abuse at the judges after the sentence and one tried to escape from the fortified courtroom.
Four police struggled for several minutes to handcuff and shackle him in a courthouse corridor and hauled him back to the courtroom, where the judge ordered him immediately confined to the cells.
The state's main witness was another Palestinian who was sentenced by the Dusseldorf court to four years in jail in November 2003 on similar charges. His sentence was reduced because he agreed to turn state's evidence and he testified repeatedly at the latest trial.
Judges slammed German immigration authorities for letting the men stay in the country in the first place and obtain welfare benefits.
Presiding judge Ottmar Breidling said the defendants and witnesses from their circle of friends had been living in Germany under false names, proclaiming fake stories of persecution. Abu-D. paid people smugglers to get into Germany in 1995.
Some of the circle were convicted drug dealers, yet they had improperly obtained residence permits. Four witnesses had somehow obtained German citizenship, yet could not speak German.
"If immigration laws had been correctly applied, this trial would never have taken place," said the judge, calling for a crackdown.
If they had been duly expelled, Germany would have been spared danger and saved the expense of a costly, 20-month, high-security trial as well as the welfare benefits paid out to the bogus refugees, he said.
Subject: German news