Belgian court upholds arrest of Moroccan man

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- A Brussels court upheld the arrest of a man of Moroccan origin suspected of links to al-Qaida.

Ahmed Ellattah, 35, made his first appearance in court Monday on charges of criminal association. He denied the charges, but the court ordered he remain in detention.

Ellattah was arrested last week in the northern port city of Antwerp.

Investigators suspect he is an accomplice of Tarek Maaroufi, a man of Tunisian origin arrested in December by Belgian police on suspicion of recruiting for al-Qaida and involvement in a false passport ring.

Maaroufi is suspected of providing counterfeit identity papers to the killers of Afghan anti-Taliban leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was killed two days before Sept. 11, 2001. His attackers, both of whom died in the bombing, posed as journalists and traveled using forged Belgian passports.

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