Germans arrest man with alleged connections to hijackers

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Associated Press WriterBERLIN (AP) -- German authorities have arrested a man in Hamburg who they say held a bank account used by hijackers involved in the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States, officials said Wednesday.

The man, identified only as 27-year-old Mounir El M., is accused of supporting a terrorist group. The suspect, a Moroccan national, is accused of holding a bank account used by hijacker Marwan Al-Shehhi, the Federal Prosecutors Office said in a statement.

The account, at a Hamburg bank, was used to finance Al-Shehhi and other members of the terrorist group, including suspected ringleader Mohamed Atta and also Ziad Jarrah, prosecutors said.

Funds were allegedly used to support Al-Shehhi during his stay in the United States and to pay for his flight school in Florida.

Atta and Al-Shehhi were the suspected pilots of the hijacked planes that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. Jarrah is believed to have flown the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

"Large sums of money" were regularly paid into the account from May 2000 to November 2000, prosecutors said.

El M. allegedly had "intensive contacts" over a period of years with members of the terrorist cell, according to the statement.

In addition to Atta, Jarrah and Al-Shehhi, who died aboard the hijacked planes, German authorities have issued international arrest warrants for three suspected accomplices: Ramsi Binalshibh of Yemen, Said Bahaji, a German national; and Zakariya Essabar of Morocco.

All three left Hamburg shortly before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Binalshibh is believed to have intended to be part of the hijacking team that commandeered United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in southwestern Pennsylvania. He was unable to enter the United States, despite three attempts by Atta to get him in, according to the FBI.

A total of 19 hijackers died in the attacks, the FBI has said.

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