DUESSELDORF, Germany – A German investigator testified Friday that authorities linked the leader of a German-based terrorist cell to al-Qaida but could not confirm U.S. claims that the man was also in contact with Saddam Hussein.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the leader of the radical Palestinian group Al Tawhid and also believed to be the “leader of a wing within al-Qaida,” federal agent Manfred Ehlenz said at the trial of Shadi Abdellah, accused of plotting attacks in Germany for the group.
In his February speech to the U.N. Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell said al-Zarqawi was being harbored by Iraq, evidence of an al-Qaida connection to Saddam.
Ehlenz said the Bundeskriminalamt — Germany’s equivalent of the FBI — had linked al-Zarqawi to Hamas and Hezbollah, but never to Saddam.
“We never came up with an indication of that in our investigation,” he testified.
Abdellah, 26, was one of nine alleged Islamic extremists detained in April 2002 on suspicion of plotting imminent terror attacks, but the only one to be charged so far.
He has testified that the Essen-based Al Tawhid cell had planned to attack Jewish targets to emulate al-Qaida, and also told of training in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and serving briefly as Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard.
If convicted, he faces a possible 10 years in prison.