14 September 2004
BRUSSELS – A man standing trial in Belgium on terrorism related activities on Tuesday admitted that he acted as a link between al-Qaeda leaders in Italy and Pakistan and supporters of Osama Bin Laden’s network here.
Saber Mohammed is one of ten men currently on trial in Brussels for allegedly helping terrorist organisations.
Mohammed, an Iraqi, said that shortly after he arrived in Belgium at the end of 2000, two men he met at a Brussels mosque gave him two mobile telephones.
He told the court in Brussels that he had been asked to receive calls on the phones and pass on information to the two men.
Mohammed said the two men had chosen him as their link person because he was, “not being bugged.”
He added that the two, “talked a great deal about radical Islam and hated the west.”
He then told the court that he did not share the men’s’ views and said they had “abused” him.
Prosecutors say that on 2 June 2001 Khalid Cheikh Mohammed, thought to be one of Osama bin Laden’s most senior lieutenants, called one of the phones three times from Pakistan.
“There were also lots of calls from Essid Sami ben Khemais,” a Turkish national considered one of Al-Qaeda’s key operatives in Italy, Mohammed said.
Khemais was convicted in Milan in 2002 on charges not linked to terrorism.
The two men for whom Mohammed said he served as “voicemail box” have been identified as Moussa Zemmouri, a Moroccan-born Belgian currently detained at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay and Driss Elatellah, a Moroccan.
Elatellah was supposed to appear in court in Brussels on Monday alongside Mohammed, but so far he has refused to leave his cell or to appoint a lawyer to represent him.
Belgian-Tunisian Tarek Maaroufi also appeared in court on Monday where like Mohammed he denied charges of criminal association, which carries a maximum jail term of five years.
After questioning Mohammed again on Tuesday, the court began considering the case of the other eight defendants, including seven who prosecutors believe wanted to carry out an attack in Brussels.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news