Al-Qaida terror plot trial opens in Germany

Ahmad Wali Siddiqui, a German-Afghani accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Europe, goes to trial.

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
March 22, 2012 03:04
2 minute read.
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KOBLENZ – The trial of a German-Afghani accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Europe and of being a member in al-Qaida and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan opened in Koblenz, southeast of Cologne, on Monday.

According to the indictment, defendant Ahmad Wali Siddiqui, 37, aimed to “weaken Europe’s economy” with attacks.

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“We wanted to fight Americans,” Siddiqui said about his decision to travel to Pakistan along with a group of fellow German Islamists in 2009.

Siddiqui’s brother, Sulyman, who also traveled to Pakistan, spoke on a surveillance recording of “killing Americans,” the federal prosecutor said.

US troops captured Siddiqui in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2010.

US military personnel questioned Siddiqui in Kabul and information from his interrogation led to a high security alert in the United Kingdom, Germany and France in late 2010.

German authorities in 2010 shut down Hamburg’s Al- Quds Mosque — the so-called 9/11 mosque – where Siddiqui and his group met. The mosque earned the reputation over the years as the source of “jihadi tourism” because it was a magnet for radical German Islamists. It was the organizational hub for many of the terrorists involved in the attacks in the US on September 11, 2001.

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According to German media, the Siddiqui case is a test of the country’s anti-terrorism laws. Critics argue that the Federal Republic tolerates violent Islamist activity, and its enforcement strategy is weak and porous.

Siddiqui was one of the sources of the warnings in 2010 about al-Qaida “Mumbai- style” terrorist attacks in Europe. The daily paper Die Welt wrote at the time, “Germany on its way to becoming terror-export world champion” because of the rising number of homegrown German Islamists fighting against Americans in the Pakistan/ Afghanistan region.

According to the report, 40 trained German Islamist explosive experts are operating in Germany, training jihadists. Hezbollah is a legal organization in the Federal Republic, with a membership of roughly 900.

Siddiqui admitted on Tuesday that he participated in weapons training at the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) camp in Pakistan, including the use of AK-47 assault rifles. Siddiqui helped the IMU produce propaganda films to recruit Germans to engage in jihad. After a short period of training, he and a German-Syrian, Rami Makanesi, relocated to al- Qaida Pakistan.

A Frankfurt court convicted Makanesi last year for membership in al-Qaida and IMU.

He was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison.

On Monday and Tuesday, the clean-shaven Siddiqui, wearing a blue dress shirt and a dark coat and slacks, sought to present a different demeanor than that shown in the footage of him as a violent Islamist in an IMU film screened in the courtroom.

He faces a possible 10-year sentence for his alleged terrorism activities. His testimony provided an extraordinary window into the inner workings of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and al-Qaida Pakistan.

Siddiqui distanced himself from Mounir el-Motassadeq, an Algerian who attended the Al-Quds Mosque, and was convicted of being an accessory to murder in the 9/11 attacks. Siddiqui said he only helped drive Motassadeq’s father to the prison in Wuppertal to visit his son.

Siddiqui denied knowing Mohamed Atta – one of the masterminds behind the attacks on the twin towers.

Atta, an Egyptian who was the hijacker-pilot of the plane that crashed into North Tower of the World Trade Center, lived in Hamburg and attended the Al-Quds Mosque.

More hearings are slated for next week in Koblenz.

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