Austrian terror suspect says he helped release Iraq hostage

Muhammad M., on trial for alleged al-Qaida links, says he appealed to kidnappers of German woman.

austria terrorist 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
austria terrorist 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
A young Austrian Muslim on trial for suspected links to al-Qaida said Thursday his efforts led to the release of a German hostage in Iraq. Hannelore Krause and her son Sinan disappeared in Iraq on February 6, 2007. Roughly a month later, a previously unknown insurgent group, the "Arrows of Righteousness," claimed to have abducted the two. Krause was freed in July, but her son remains missing. Muhammad M., 22, said he had published a letter on-line with a reminder that the Koran prohibited the kidnapping of women, and later got the abductors to extend the deadline on ultimatum. In comments carried by the Austria Press Agency, Muhammad M. said he had then appealed for Krause's release in a 20-page text in which he noted, among other things, that a video showing Krause and her son was not helping the group "win favor." Two to three weeks after his appeal, the kidnappers thanked him for his advice, Muhammad M. claimed, adding that Krause was released shortly afterward. Muhammad M. is on trial in Vienna over his alleged involvement in a March 2007 video threatening Austria and Germany with attacks if they did not withdraw military personnel from Afghanistan. The prosecution also alleges that Muhammad M. mentioned, in Internet forums frequented by Islamic radicals, the Vienna-based Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, and the Euro 2008 soccer championship as potential terrorist targets. Prosecutors allege that his wife, 21-year-old Mona S., translated Arabic texts into German. At the start of the trial Monday, Muhammad M. pleaded not guilty to all charges, but acknowledged he had been active in the Global Islamic Media Front. However, he disputed that the front had ties to al-Qaida and described it as a media organization whose goal was the truth. Prosecutor Michael Klackl has said he would try to prove that Muhammad M. was consciously involved in the spreading of extremist propaganda.