29 Jan 2005 – Reuters
An Iraqi arrested in Germany on suspicion of plotting an al Qaeda suicide attack in Iraq said he was sent on his mission by Osama bin Laden himself, a German magazine reported Saturday.
German state prosecutors believe Ibrahim Mohammed K., a 29-year-old Iraqi believed to be a high-ranking al Qaeda figure, recruited Yasser Abu S., a 31-year-old stateless Palestinian from Libya, as a future suicide bomber in Iraq.
The two men were arrested last Sunday in the western city of Mainz, which President Bush is due to visit next month. However, prosecutors said there was no indication the two had planned an attack in Germany.
Der Spiegel magazine said the Iraqi had told the other man he had been sent by bin Laden personally to Germany. It gave no details on the date or location of the meeting.
“Yes, he sent me to work, to sell and buy,” the magazine quoted him as saying, citing a conversation from their Mainz apartment that investigating authorities recorded.
Authorities believe the terms refer to the recruitment and placement of volunteers for Jihad, or “holy war,” the magazine said in a preview of an article due to appear Monday.
Prosecutors said Sunday the two planned to pretend that Yasser Abu S. had been killed in a car accident in Egypt and claim over 800,000 euros ($1.04 million) from a life insurance policy to fund the suicide bombing and other operations.
Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm said the Iraqi also had sought to acquire nuclear material for use in an attack. The suspect had been in contact with a group in Luxembourg which had nuclear material, but Nehm said it was not suitable for a bomb.
The prosecutor’s office said the Iraqi had visited al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan many times before the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001 and remained for a year afterwards, fighting U.S. forces there.
In this time, Nehm said he had contact with Osama bin Laden and other leading al Qaeda figures, such as Ramzi bin al-Shaibah, who is now in U.S. custody.
Prosecutors said the leaders persuaded the Iraqi suspect to recruit suicide bombers in Europe. With his German travel documents, he was able to travel across the continent, arriving in Germany in September 2002, they said.
The Iraqi’s name does not, however, feature on published FBI or United Nations lists of al Qaeda members.