German police shut 9/11 plotters' mosque after fears that it is again being used by radicals

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The Independent Online

A small mosque in Hamburg once frequented by September 11 attackers was shut down and searched yesterday because German authorities believed it was again being used as a meeting point for Islamist radicals.

The Taiba mosque was closed and the cultural association that runs it was banned, officials said. "We have closed the mosque because it was a recruiting and meeting point for Islamic radicals who wanted to participate in so-called jihad or holy war," said Frank Reschreiter, a spokesman for the Hamburg state interior ministry.

He said 20 police officers were searching the building and had confiscated material, including several computers. He said he had no information about any arrests. The homes of leading members of the cultural association were also searched and the group's assets were confiscated, Hamburg's state government said.

The mosque, until two years ago known as the al-Quds mosque, was a meeting and recruiting point for some of the hijackers involved in the attacks of 11 September 2001 before they moved to the United States, authorities say. Their ringleader, Mohamed Atta, as well as attackers Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah had studied in Hamburg and frequented the al-Quds mosque.

Mr Reschreiter said the mosque had been under observation by intelligence officers for "quite a long time" and this was the first time it had been closed.

The state interior ministry said about 45 supporters of jihad live in the Hamburg area and around 200 people regularly attend Friday prayers at the Taiba mosque.