Witness recalls suicide pilot threat at 9/11 trial
10 November 2004 , HAMBURG - One of the 11 September 2001 suicide pilots, Marwan al-Shehhi, spoke in mid-1999 of causing "thousands of deaths" in the United States, a former librarian said on Wednesday at the Hamburg re-trial of a Morroccan student convicted for his part in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US.
10 November 2004
HAMBURG - One of the 11 September 2001 suicide pilots, Marwan al-Shehhi, spoke in mid-1999 of causing "thousands of deaths" in the United States, a former librarian said on Wednesday at the Hamburg re-trial of a Morroccan student convicted for his part in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US.
Mounir al-Motassadeq was jailed for 15 years for assisting 3,000 murders and being a member of a terrorist group, but appeal judges ordered a re-trial.
The ex-librarian, whose name was withheld in accordance with German court reporting practice, told the court that she thought he mentioned the World Trade Center in New York in excited remarks in a Hamburg college library, but she could not recall exactly. Her testimony was crucial to Motassadeq's first conviction last year.
At the time of the alleged conversation, both al-Shehhi and the terrorists' leader, Mohammed Atta of Egypt, frequently met to use a free internet computer in the library in the southern suburb of Harburg, the ex-librarian, 33, said.
Her testimony conflicts with the previous day's expert opinion of German domestic intelligence that the Hamburg students were not recruited by terror chief Osama bin Laden to become suicide hijackers till the end of 1999.
Atta and al-Shehhi were the pilots of the two airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001.
Defence counsel said her testimony was open to various interpretations. She was not sure if the World Trade Center was mentioned. Prosecutors conceded there was vagueness about it.
The witness said it was possible al-Shehhi and Atta had spoken only of attacks on the United States generally. She said she could pinpoint the loud and agitated remarks to between February and August 1999 in Harburg Technical College's computer centre library.
Al-Shehhi had declared something like: "Something will happen," and she clearly remembered he had added, "You'll see." He had said he would fly to America and thousands would die including children.
"As far as I know, he also mentioned the World Trade Center," she said. She said al-Shehhi and Atta, who were enrolled as students, had been frequent users of the library's internet connection and looked up "Islamic websites".
She said she recalled an agitated discussion in Arabic, which she does not understand, with the word "America" often figuring.
At the first trial, judges said this indicated the attacks were common knowledge in the Atta circle, of which Motassadeq was part.
Subject: German news