Trial Of Suspected Al Qaeda Member

The trial of suspected al-Qaeda member Mounir El Motassadeq for having been part of the Hamburg cell that planned and carried out September 11, now being held in Germany, may be transferred to the United States. This move is contemplated because it would allow prosecutors to call to the stand Ahmad Ressam, now in Federal penitentiary in Washington state for his role in the “Millennium Plot” to blow up the Los Angeles Airport in 2000.

Ressam has shown increasing remorse for his actions since September 11, especially as it finally dawned on him that he was in prison for life. My guess is that he, an Algerian, has information about El Motassadeq (a Moroccan) that would ensure the latter’s conviction. Maybe in return he’ll become eligible for parole at some distant point in the future. The change of venue may also be necessary because the German defense team has filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that they have been denied access to a key witness, Ramzi Binalshibh, who was arrested in Pakistan last summer and also played a key role in the Hamburg cell.

In the meantime, an FBI agent testified at the trial that Muhammad Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi received as much as $200,000 from sources in the Persian Gulf in the months before September 11. Atta sent a large sum back to the UAE shortly before that date. El Motassadeq had signing authority over al-Shehhi’s bank account.

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