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Germany in Brief

German police search buildings for suspected Islamic militants, no anthrax is found in suspicious letter delivered to Berlin university and more.


Fears of anthrax in Berlin are thwarted

German Police search suspected Islamic militants

Police stormed 11 buildings in Germany early on Wednesday in connection with three men suspected of preparing a series of terrrorist attacks, investigators said. Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm said the three were suspected of belonging to an international terrorist organization and that they had allegedly made telephone and personal contacts with other suspects. The raids on homes and offices took place in the cities of Munich, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Wiesbaden and Worms. The men were not thought, however, to be linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Last Thursday, police raided six buildings in western Germany, detained and later released three suspected Islamic extremists, including one who may have links to the Hamburg cell behind the attacks. There were no immediate links between the two police operations, Nehm said.

Prosecutors Seek Long Jail Terms for Bomb Plot Suspects

Hesse state prosecutors in Frankfurt urged a court on Wednesday to imprison four Algerians accused of planning to bomb a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, in 2000 for up to 12 years. The men are accused of conspiracy to murder. Brinkmann said the men trained in Afghanistan in order to wage a "Holy War" in Europe. The men are not accused of involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, but prosecutors have alleged the men had links with al Qaeda. The trial has highlighted Germany's position as a center of suspected Islamist extremists in Europe. No date has yet been set for a judgment.

Acquittal Demanded for Sept. 11 Defendant

In Hamburg, the defense for 28-year old Moroccan student Mounir El Motassadeq, the first man to stand trial over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, will call for his acquittal in closing arguments Wednesday. At the last scheduled hearing in this landmark trial before a verdict is pronounced, the defendant will also address the court to point out the evidence was insufficient, a defense attorney said. Motassadeq, who investigators believe belonged to an al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg which harboured three of the 19 suicide hijackers, is accused of membership of a terrorist organization and being an accessory to the murder of the more than 3,000 people killed in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 in the U.S.. Motassadeq is believed to have transferred funds to one of the plane hijackers while he was in the U.S. Testimonies indicate he was a trusted member of the Hamburg cell around suspected leader Mohammed Atta.

No anthrax in university letter, Berlin officials say

Berlin health officials on Wednesday denied fears that a suspicious letter found on Tuesday contained anthrax. A spokeswoman for Berlin's health department said authorities did not believe the envelope contained any dangerous material. As a precautionary step, part of the university buildings were sealed off and two students, who said they felt ill, taken to hospital. Anthrax scares were common in the United States and around the world in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. Several people died after being exposed to letters containing the bacteria which were sent to U.S. media outlets and politicians. Several scares in Germany turned out to be false alarms.

Compiled with material from wires

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