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German Court Finds Terror Suspects Guilty

DW staff (tkw)October 26, 2005

Four men who have been linked to al Qaeda, have been sentenced to jail terms of between five and eight years for planning attacks against Jewish sites in Germany.

All four men were convictedImage: AP

The prosecution described the men, two Jordanians, a Palestinian and an Algerian, as the "most important members" of the German cell of the Islamic group Al-Tawhid, headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is wanted by the US as the leading militant behind the insurgency in Iraq.

The two Jordanians and the Palestinian were convicted of belonging to a terrorist organization and given sentences of between six and eight years. The fourth defendant, was found guilty of supporting the terrorist group and handed a five-year jail term.

Al Tawhid Terrorprozess in Düsseldorf Polizist
The trial was heavily guardedImage: AP

They were detained in April 2002 following a phone-tapping operation and were accused of planning to detonate a bomb near the headquarters of the Jewish community in Berlin and of plotting hand grenade attacks against Düsseldorf restaurants which are owned and patronized by Jews.

One of the Jordanian defendants and alleged ringleader, Mohammed Abu Dhess, said he had never planned to attack Jewish targets. "I hate the Israeli system. But I don't hate Jews as Jews," he said at the court hearing earlier this month.

Key witness is "notorious liar"

The trial began in February last year and continued for 135 days, 55 of which were taken up with testimony from the key witness, Jordanian Shadi Abdallah. He was arrested at the same time as the other four, but tried and convicted separately.

Shadi Moh'd Mustafa Abdalla heute im Oberlandesgericht in Düsseldorf
Artist impression of key witness, Shadi AbdallaImage: AP

Abdallah claims to have been Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, and has confessed to having been instrumental in plotting targets for attack in Germany. In his testimony, he said the terror cell had attempted to get hold of hand grenades and a pistol with a silencer in order to carry out the attacks.

The defense dubbed Abdallah a "notorious liar," but the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office rewarded him for agreeing to testify against his former associates by releasing him from jail after less than a year. He is now living in Germany under a witness protection scheme.