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Germany detains terror suspect

The house where El Motassadeq lived in Hamburg  

FRANKFURT, Germany (CNN) -- German authorities said they detained a Moroccan man for questioning in Hamburg on Wednesday about a bank account he shared with one of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks in the United States.

German authorities identified the man as 27-year-old Mounir El Motassadeq.

He is being held on suspicion of criminal association, said a spokeswoman for the Federal Prosecutors' Office in Karlsruhe.

The suspect had a bank account used by September 11 hijacker Marwan Al-Shehhi, the office said.

Large amounts of money flowed through the account between May and November 2000, apparently financing Al-Shehhi's trip and preparations for the attack in the United States.

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CNN's Bettina Luscher reports on the Moroccan student under suspicion

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German authorities did not say how much or where the money came from, but the money trail could help track down others involved in the plot.

Hamburg was a home and a byway for some of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City and damaged the Pentagon in Washington. Among them was Mohammed Atta.

When CNN's Bettina Luscher met El Motassadeq last month, he recalled his friendship with Atta.

"We were normal friends, that means we are Muslims. We help each other out. We meet in the mosque. We discuss things. Totally normal," he said.

Asked whether he had a power of attorney for Al-Shehhi's bank account, he replied: "Why? That is typical, normal, when you help others here. Marwan, when he travelled, then one had to help him with the apartment, also for the university tuition."

El Motassadeq denied reports he had wired almost a thousand dollars to Atta and to fugitive Ramzi Binalshibh, now being sought by Interpol for mass murder, terrorism and conspiracy relating to the September 11 attacks.

When asked about his signature on Atta's will, El Motassadeq said simply: "I don't remember."

However, he did recall taking a trip to Karachi, Pakistan, in the summer of 2000, for a holiday, he said, leaving his wife and small child for several weeks.

But, he said, he could not remember how long he was there, precisely when he was there, where he stayed, or what he did.


• Germany seeks terror suspect
October 19, 2001
• German police hold airport worker over attacks
September 13, 2001
• FBI request German flat raid
September 12, 2001
• Germany tightens security net
October 28, 2001

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