Terror suspect admits training at Afghan camp

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The Independent Online

The first suspected terrorist to stand trial in Europe in connection with the 11 September attacks admitted yesterday he had attended an al-Qa'ida training camp in Afghanistan the previous year. But he insisted he had nothing to do with the attacks.

The first suspected terrorist to stand trial in Europe in connection with the 11 September attacks admitted yesterday he had attended an al-Qa'ida training camp in Afghanistan the previous year. But he insisted he had nothing to do with the attacks.

Mounir el-Motassadeq, a 28-year-old Moroccan student appeared before a heavily guarded Hamburg court to answer charges that he was an accomplice to the 3,116 murders in New York and Washington on 11 September, 2001. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Looking pale, yet smiling and apparently relaxed, Mr Motassadeq displayed none of the militant defiance exhibited by other 11 September suspects detained in the US when the indictment was read out against him.

Wearing a plain grey shirt and speaking fluent German, he told judges sitting behind a bullet-proof screen in the courtroom that he did not support violence: "Suicide pilots are not martyrs. Even in war there are rules," he said, "There was no talk of suicide attacks. In my opinion that is not a solution," he added. However, he admitted that during the summer of 2000 he had spent three weeks being trained how to use a Kalashnikov rifle in the mountains of Afghanistan at an al- Qa'ida camp. He insisted his motives were purely religious. "It is one of the requirements of Islam that one should be trained how to use a weapon," he told the court.

Mr Motassadeq is accused of acting as the "accountant" for the Hamburg terrorist cell that carried out the attacks and of funding its members through his Hamburg bank account after the suicide pilots left Germany to learn to fly in the US. Germany's federal prosecutor has accused him of being a "cog without whom the whole business would not have functioned."

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