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2/22/03 - MOTASSADEQ CONVICTION - 2003-02-24

A court in Hamburg, Germany, has sentenced al-Qaida terrorist Mounir El Motassadeq [moo-near- el moh-tah-seh-dek] to fifteen years in prison for providing money and logistical support for the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C. German Federal Prosecutor General Kay Nehm [kye name] said Motassadeq was "especially intensive" in the operations of the Hamburg al-Qaida cell that carried out the suicide attacks. More than three-thousand men, women, and children from some ninety countries were killed.

A Moroccan citizen, Motassadeq was a student at Hamburg Technical University from 1995 until his arrest in November 2001. Between 1996 and 1998, he worked as a cleaner at the Hamburg airport, where he had access to secure areas and aircraft. For a time, he lived at an apartment that served as the headquarters of the Hamburg al-Qaida cell. His roommate was Ramzi Binalshibh [RAM-see bihn-ah-SHAY-buh], a top al-Qaida leader, now in U.S. custody. As German prosecutors made clear, the Hamburg al-Qaida cell knew by October 1999 that they would attack the U.S. with hijacked aircraft.

Motassadeq took an active role in planning and facilitating the attacks. Marwan al-Shebhi [mahr-wahn al sheb-he] and the other September 11th hijackers left Hamburg in 2000 to take private flight training lessons in Florida. Motassadeq provided them with money. He admitted training in an al-Qaida terrorist camp in Afghanistan in 2000.

As the German prosecutor pointed out, Motassadeq and his al-Qaida conspirators were united by a hatred of Jews and the United States. Motassadeq, Mr. Nehm said, "approved of the mass murder of Jews" by Nazi Germany. "He approved terror acts and he approved of the violent conversion of infidels to Islam."

The trial and conviction of Mounir El Motassadeq are a victory in the war on terrorism. But the U.S. and its allies will not rest until all al-Qaida terrorists -- including Osama bin Laden -- are brought to justice.