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Germany arrests al Qaeda suspects

From CNN's Chris Burns


BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- German authorities on Sunday arrested two suspected members of al Qaeda, one of whom had tried to obtain nuclear materials and had contacts with Osama bin Laden, officials said

Police arrested the pair in Mainz on Sunday morning for allegedly belonging to a foreign terrorist organization, according to a statement by the federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe.

The prosecutor said there was no sign the two had organized an al Qaeda cell in Germany.

The arrests follow sweeps last week across Germany in which nearly two dozen alleged Islamic extremists were detained, homes searched and evidence seized.

Authorities identified the two arrested Sunday as Ibrahim Mohamed K., a 29-year-old German citizen from Iraq living in Mainz, suspected of planning suicide attacks in Germany, and Yasser Abu S., a 31-year-old Palestinian without German citizenship.

At a news conference Sunday, Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm said Mohammed, while in Afghanistan, had contacts with bin Laden and Ramzi Binalshibh, whom investigators say was a key al Qaeda operative involved in the September 11 attacks.

Mohammed sought to obtain 48 grams of uranium from Luxembourg but was unsuccessful, Nehm said.

Mohammed recruited Yasser -- who was born in Libya -- for a suicide attack in Iraq, Nehm said.

Both Mohammed and Yasser had been under investigation since October, the statement said. They are scheduled to appear before an investigative judge at the federal court in Karlsruhe on Monday.

Authorities searched four apartments in Mainz and Bonn, authorities said.

According to the statement, Ibrahim Mohammed K. was repeatedly in training camps in Afghanistan before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

After 9/11, he took part in fighting against U.S. forces in Afghanistan for more than a year and had high-ranking al Qaeda contacts who persuaded him to recruit suicide attackers in Europe, the statement said.

He began working in Germany in September 2002 raising money and providing "logistical support" for al Qaeda, the statement said. With German travel papers, he could move freely inside Europe.

He sought to obtain nuclear materials but was unsuccessful, the statement said.

The two suspects sought to raise money by taking out an 800,000 euro ($1 million) life insurance policy on Yasser Abu S., who planned to fake a fatal traffic accident and use the money for jihad, or holy war, the statement said.

German authorities have vowed a wider crackdown on Islamic extremists, and a new law that went into effect January 1 speeds up the deportation process for so-called hate preachers and other extremists.

Spiegel magazine reported this weekend that German state and federal interior ministers were preparing hundreds of deportations of Islamic extremists.

Germany began its crackdown after the September 11 attacks. Three of the 19 hijackers who carried out the attacks had been based in Hamburg.

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