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CNN BREAKING NEWS

German Police Nab Terror Suspects

Aired September 6, 2002 - 14:56   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: On to a breaking news, still on the line of that war against terrorism: German police cracking down on possible terrorists. We have been talking about this in last couple of hours. German police reconfirm arresting at least four people tied to possible terrorist activity.
Our Chris Burns is working this story. He joins us now by phone to tell us more.

Chris, what do you have?

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, a news conference underway in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany. Details are coming out very slowly on this, but a Turkish man and his fiancee, who was a civilian employee at the U.S. military, have both been arrested. That Turkish man, 24 years old, arrested with what Germans say was a large quantity of explosives.

Raising a lot of alarms here among authorities. They are looking very closely at this to see whether they have any terrorist links. But they say it's extremely suspicious that he was arrested with this large quantity of explosives and that his fiance worked as a civilian employee for the U.S. military.

The U.S. Army headquarters in Europe is in Heidelberg, which is in the area where this man and his fiancee were arrested. So very, very worrying development for authorities here as they are checking into that. We could find out more details as the press conference pursues.

In fact, the latest I see coming out of it is that the couple had more than 280 pounds of chemicals and five pipe bombs when they are arrested yesterday, in an apartment near Heidelberg. So at this, no immediate comment from the U.S. military authorities here, but of course, this is going raise a lot of concern among authorities here.

The other development is that there was an arrest in the last couple of weeks in the United States. An Afghan-born German man who lived in Hamburg. Hamburg was the base where Mohamed Atta and some of the other September 11 hijackers lived for years. And authorities are looking into possible terror links of this man, an Afghan-born German, 39 years old, who was arrested in the United States when he traveled there in mid-July of this year -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Chris, you were telling me earlier the German police are getting quite aggressive with cracking down on these possible terrorists. you were also mentioning someone in Morocco. Can you tell us more about the efforts being put forth by German police?

BURNS: That's absolutely right. It really comes as a new anti- terror law came into effect just this month which allow German authorities to investigate international groups and international links to terrorist groups and groups that may be planning attacks outside of Germany. This was all very restricted up to now, in part because post-World War II laws were very restrictive, you know, remembering the Nazi era. So this is loosening things up so the German authorities can be much more aggressive in their surveillance, in their investigations, of these various suspects.

And as you mentioned, there was a Moroccan man, Mounir El Motassadeq, who is seen as a key link to the September 11 hijackers because he had power of attorney over one of the bank accounts of one of the hijackers -- in fact the one, Marwan Al-Shehhi, who crashed the plane into one of the World Trade Center towers.

So German authorities are being aggressive now, and in part because they have this new law that frees them up to be able to do that -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Do you indeed know if any of these individuals had a connection to Osama bin Laden?

BURNS: This is what they are trying to establish, because the German authorities are saying they are looking into it, especially this latest development, this Turkish man and his fiancee arrested in the Heidelberg are, near the U.S. Army headquarters. They say that they are looking into possible -- to see whether they are linked to al Qaeda or whether they are some isolated incidents.

PHILLIPS: Our Chris Burns, live from Frankfurt. Thanks, Chris.

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