Bin Laden ‘associate’ faces charges
16 January 2004
KARLSRUHE – Germany’s chief federal prosecutor Friday announced terrorism charges are being filed against a Tunisian Islamist reported to have been an associate of Osama bin Laden and to have worked for five years as a trainer at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan.
Ihsan Garnawi, 33, arrested during raids on a mosque in Berlin last March, faces charges of involvement in a terrorist group and plotting terrorist attacks, according to chief prosecutor Kay Nehm.
Garnawi allegedly arrived in Germany last February to “recruit Moslem students and refugees and train them in terrorist fighting techniques and strategy”.
Nehm said Garnawi attempted to form a terrorist cell with at least four other Islamic radicals with the goal of carrying out terrorist bombings in Berlin.
The Tunisian national was found to have aerial photographs of German cities, with many pictures being of nuclear power plants and chemical factories, according to German news reports.
Investigations of Garnawi, who was arrested 20 March along with five other Islamists at Berlin’s al-Nur Mosque, reportedly have turned up “compelling evidence” of links to al-Qaeda.
Federal Prosecution Office sources in Karlsruhe said that a search of his apartment in Berlin found high-quality aerial photos of 170 German cities and the nuclear and chemical plant sites.
They said a close acquaintance of Garnawi, probably using a false identification documents, had acquired a pilot’s licence at an air field at the town of Strausberg, just northeast of Berlin.
Besides the aerial photographs, investigators’ focus was now also on fraudulent gold dealing by a group led by Garnawi.
A spokeswoman for Nehm said the investigation is focussing on whether some of the estimated USD four million dollars in profits from the gold deals had gone to al-Qaeda.
Two of his accomplices in the gold deals, which had involved purchases in Dubai and then resale through a bogus company, have each been sentenced to five years prison for tax evasion.
At the time of his arrest in March, reports cited Germany’s national police agency BKA as saying that Garnawi had been an associate of Osama bin Laden and worked for five years as a trainer at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan.
The BKA officials had also said he had come to Germany expressly to recruit Moslem students and refugees and train them in terrorist fighting techniques.
Most of the others among the six persons arrested at the al-Nur Mosque were subsequently released. But Garnawi remained in custody.
Subject: German news