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Cablegate: Verdict in Frankfurt Terrorism Trial - What We

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 FRANKFURT 002405

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/AGS
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/TNC - MIKE STEINITZ
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/EU - BOWMAN MILLER AND HENRY RECTOR
DEPARTMENT FOR S/CT - PAUL BOYD AND STEPHANIE MOLNAR
DEPARTMENT FOR DS/OP/EUR

FBI FOR INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS UNIT - SUE CURTIS
FBI FOR COUNTERTERRORISM DIVISION - KEVIN FOUST

JUSTICE FOR CRIMINAL DIVISION, OFFICE OF TERRORISM AND
VIOLENT CRIMES - TERESA WALLBAUM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PINR PGOV AG GM
SUBJECT: VERDICT IN FRANKFURT TERRORISM TRIAL - WHAT WE
LEARNED ABOUT THE FRANKFURT CELL'S METHODS AND CONTACTS

REF: A. 2002 FRANKFURT 3580 (NOTAL); B. 2002 FRANKFURT 5829;
C. 2002 FRANKFURT 6207; D. 2002 FRANKFURT 10187

1. (U) Background and summary: This cable is a wrap up of
the Frankfurt terrorism trial. It is based on observations
by U.S. officials at the trial, but is not to be taken as a
verbatim transcript of the proceedings. When the written
verdict is published, post will provide it to Department.

2. (U) Summary continued: Four Algerians and one Moroccan,
part of a group commonly referred to as the "Frankfurt cell"
or the "Meliani Group", were arrested in December 2000.
Bomb-making materials and weapons were found in their
Frankfurt apartments. On March 10, 2003, four of the five
defendants were sentenced to 10-12 years of prison (the
possible maximum being 15) for plotting to bomb the
Christmas market in Strasbourg, France. One defendant,
Busid Karimou, had his case severed from the rest of the
group. He was charged with membership in a terrorist group
and was released from detention on August 30, 2002. All the
defendants trained in camps in Afghanistan. The trial
provided insight into the activities of a group of
terrorists, who trained in Afghanistan, and operated in
western Europe against a European target. This cable
compiles what was learned during the trial about the
backgrounds of the terrorists and suspected terrorists,
their movements and operations, and their connections to
other terrorists in Europe. End background and summary.


Defendants Trained in Afghanistan, But Court Could Not Prove
Al Qaeda Connection
--------------------------------------------- ---------

3. (U) The group was arrested in December 2000 and their
trial began in Frankfurt on April 2002, at the Higher State
Court (Oberlandesgericht), convened by the Special Panel for
State Security Cases (Staatsschutzsenat). Four of the five
defendants, Aerubi Beandali, Lamine Maroni, Fuhad Sabour and
Salim Boukhari, were charged with forming a terrorist
organization, planning an explosion, plotting to commit
murder, falsifying documents, and possession of weapons.
They were sentenced to 10-12 years in prison and have only a
week to appeal, although their basis for appeals under
German law is limited to procedural irregularities. The
theoretical maximum sentence was 15 years. A formal written
verdict is expected before the end of March.

4. (SBU) Defendants Beandali, Boukhari and Karimou admitted
to training in terrorist camps in Afghanistan (Jalalabad,
Khost and Khaldan). Boukhari also mentioned learning
electronics in Turkum, which he described as a "Kurdish
camp" (presumably in Turkum, Pakistan). Sabour said he had
a year's training in "Islamic studies" in Afghanistan
(presumably also at a terrorist camp) where he met Beandali
and Boukhari. A witness, Hassan Aknoush, said that Maroni
also trained with terrorists in Afghanistan. The court
never successfully determined who planned or ordered the
attack, although Chief Judge Zeiher said it probably
originated with a man called Abu Doha in London. Due to the
complications of getting witnesses from other countries, the
prosecution dropped the charge of "membership in a terrorist
organization" on January 15, 2003. The prosecution
determined that proving the defendants were linked with
known terrorist organizations would have dragged out the
trial (it had already lasted nearly a year) without
increasing the severity of the ultimate sentences. There
were some indications the group was affiliated with the
Algerian GSPC or Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat,
and their Afghanistan training suggests an Al Qaeda
connection, but the court was unable to verify these
connections.


The Defendants: Multiple Aliases
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) The following are the known names/aliases and dates
of birth of the defendants. (Some variances in spelling
have been seen in different sources.)

A. Aeurobui Beandali (also Deandali) DOB 12/10/1975; aka Ben
Ali; aka Mustapha Mestpha Kelouili DOB 11/19/1978; aka
Djilali Benali Correia DOB 7/15/1975; aka Djilali Adadi DOB
6/5/1975. Presumed Algerian.

B. Lamine Moroni, DOB 1/10/1970; aka Benard Pascale, DOB
7/25/1970. Presumed Algerian.

C. Salim Boukhari (also Boukari), DOB 8/8/1971; aka Hicham
El-Haddad, DOB 4/30 1980; aka Claude Aman, DOB 8/8/1971; aka
Karim Muscat DOB 8/8/1971; aka Messaoud (also Mesud) Zamali
(also Zemani) DOB 8/4/1966; aka Mihdi; aka Malsara; aka
Kamal. Presumed Algerian.

D. Fouhad Sabour, DOB 2/13/1965; aka Hassene Benaimine DOB
12/08/1967; aka Samir Bouinoual DOB 8/9/1978; aka Alain
Dubois; aka Morira. French or Algerian.

E. Samir Karimou (also Krimou) aka Ibrahim Ahmed, DOB
12/18/1968; aka Abdel Kader. (Released from prison August
30, 2002, continued attending trial.) Born in Rabat,
Morocco.


The Evidence: Bomb-Making Materials, Weapons, Forged
Passports, Videotape of Strasbourg Christmas Market
--------------------------------------------- -------

6. (SBU) The evidence presented in the case included a
surveillance videotape of the Strasbourg Christmas market
and surrounding area, the weapons and the bomb-making
materials found in the apartments, and police recordings of
defendants' phone conversations. Two apartments and a
rental car were searched by the Bundeskriminalamt or BKA
(similar to the FBI). An apartment in Roederbergweg was
searched on December 23 and 26, 2000. Another apartment on
Sigmund Freud Strasse was searched on December 25-26, 2000.
Items found included various passports and identification
papers (some of them fraudulent); weapons, including two
mini-machine pistols; 2 semi-automatic weapons; a revolver
and ammunition; a hand grenade; 20 kg of potassium
permanganate; various electrical components and wires;
chemicals and a detonator; batteries; acetone peroxide
(TATP); mobile phones; cannabis or hashish; nails; and cash
in various currencies (German marks, British pounds, French
francs.) (Note: the cannabis or hashish was apparently seen
on the initial search on December 23, 2000, but were missing
when the items were seized on December 26.) Various notes
and letters were also found. Forged passports were also
found in one of the defendant's rental cars. Defendant
Beandali stated the weapons were eventually to be shipped to
Algeria.


The Defendants, Background, Statements, Observations
--------------------------------------------- -------

Defendant, Aeurobui Beandali: The Bomb Builder

7. (SBU) Aeurobui Beandali was the first of the defendants
to testify before the court. Beandali expressed regret for
his actions, stating that the events of September 11 had
changed his views on terrorism as a means of political
change. Of the five defendants, Beandali seems to have been
in Germany the longest but had the strongest connection to
Algeria. He said his original motivation was anger over
human rights abuses committed by the Algerian military
government. Beandali said he has been a member of the
Islamic Salvation Front political party (outlawed in 1992).
Beandali fled Algeria in 1992 at the age of 16 and applied
for political asylum in Germany. After committing several
criminal offences, including theft and aggravated assault,
Beandali's German asylum application was rejected and he was
ordered deported in April 1992. He went into hiding to
avoid deportation, supporting himself by petty crime and
drug trafficking. He also spent some time in France,
although the dates are unclear, where he apparently also
committed robbery and drug-related crimes.

8. (SBU) Beandali gave contradictory statements about his
whereabouts in 1999-2000. In one statement he said from
March 1999 until spring 2000 he lived in an apartment on
Leonardsgasse 7 in Frankfurt. In another, he claimed he
went to Afghanistan from about November 1999 - August 2000.
Beandali said he paid his own way to train in a camp in
Afghanistan, spending about $15,000 of his own money.
Beandali claimed he had to pay for his own ammunition - $150
for 750 rounds of ammunition. He described his training in
Afghanistan as specializing in religion, light weapons,
heavy weapons and explosives. Beandali said he met another
defendant, Karimou, at a camp near the Afghan town of
Khaldan, although Karimou stated he met Beandali in Khost.

9. (SBU) Beandali said he was an expert in explosives and
that it was his job to buy the bomb-building materials for
the Frankfurt cell. He explained that the bomb was to be
placed in a large, aluminum, Pakistani steam pot, which he
ordered in London. (Note: The fact that this would have
produced deadly splinter fragments was used as evidence that
the targets were people and not an empty synagogue as the
other defendants claimed. End Note.) He also bought large
amounts of potassium permanganate. Found among the evidence
seized in the Frankfurt apartment was a letter, purportedly
from a company, attempting to place an order for 115
kilograms of potassium permanganate. Beandali admitted that
he and Boukhari had written the letter using a fabricated
company name and person (Barakhat). Given the large amount
of potassium permanganate, the prosecutors asked if the
group planned multiple attacks. Beandali stated that
several attacks in Algeria were planned after Strasbourg,
hence the large amount of bomb materials.

10. (SBU) The BKA testified on what was found in Beandali's
rental car, which was in very bad shape. Found inside were
a backpack, several false passports, various papers and
passport photos. One of the passports was connected with
Aknoush and Aknoush's fingerprints were found on the
backpack. (Note: Aknoush, an associate of the Frankfurt
cell, is in custody in France.) They also found a mobile
phone, whose number matched with one being monitored by the
BKA.

11. (SBU) Despite Beandali's sometimes contradictory
statements and previous criminal record, he was actually the
most open with the court, helped moved the proceedings
along, and expressed regret for his actions and a desire to
turn away from Islamic extremism. He received the lightest
sentence, ten years, due to his cooperation with the court.
Beandali accepted the sentence and said he would not appeal.


Defendant, Lamine Maroni: The Disruptive, Absurd One
--------------------------------------------- -------

12. (SBU) Beandali had stated that Lamine Maroni's only job
was to help him mix the chemicals to make explosives and
that he was not involved in planning the attack. Maroni did
not formally testify but confirmed some statements by
defendant Sabour. Maroni said Beandali was the leader of
the Frankfurt cell and he openly displayed hostility to
Beandali. Maroni's role in the group was unclear, but the
other defendants seemed to be a bit afraid of him. Maroni
seems to have been in England before coming to Frankfurt
with Boukhari sometime in late 2000. Maroni did not
cooperated with his lawyers, then complained he was
uninformed. A witness, Hassan Aknoush, has stated that
Maroni also trained with terrorists in Afghanistan.

13. (SBU) Maroni was disruptive from the start. On the
first day of the trial he shouted, "Everyone here is a Jew!"
He said that non-believers are dirt, that he did not want a
lawyer, and that he only had contact with God. He continued
to disrupt proceedings on subsequent trial days and was
absent for the fourth trial session on May 7, 2002, after
being found in prison with a razor blade which he used to
cut up his clothing. He later rejoined the trial, having
missed several sessions. Maroni enjoyed engaging in
distracting behavior, especially when it seemed sensitive
information was about to be revealed by a defendant or
witness. He yelled out things to the other defendants such
as, "Sometimes they lie to you to get you talking." He
demanded sandwiches, chocolate, made absurd statements,
criticized the judges and prosecuting attorneys, and
complained loudly about his handcuffs.

14. (SBU) Maroni received a sentence of eleven years, one
year higher than the prosecution had requested, for his lack
of cooperation and repeated hostile statements. His
outbursts demonstrated his hatred and ruthlessness, the
court concluded.


Defendant Salim Boukhari: The London Connection
--------------------------------------------- --

15. (SBU) The defendant Salim Boukhari appears to have had
the strongest connections to London. The Algerian Embassy
questioned him on October 30, 2002 with his lawyers present.
The Algerian Embassy confirmed that Boukhari was Algerian,
but cast doubt on the accuracy of the name and Algerian
address he had given. When Judge Zeiher read Boukhari's
Algerian address from a letter Boukhari had written (50
Boulevard Mohammed V, Algiers, 1016 Algeria), Boukhari
declined to confirm it, but asked the judge not to reveal it
to the Algerian Embassy, apparently afraid the Algerian
government might harm his family. The judge responded that
the address was not a secret.

16. (SBU) According to his own statement, Boukhari wanted to
study in France but failed to get a residence permit. He
went to London but was deported, though the dates are
unclear. Somehow he returned, and according to his own
statements, lived in London starting from about 1995. He
married Tina Nash and lived with her at 79 Blesbury Road in
London. He worked for a security company called Mitas
Security and then later moved to the Layton Stone district.
He met a man named Noureddine in 1995, who got him
interested in religion. After Boukhari's divorce in 1998,
he moved in with Noureddine, who recruited him for Islamic
causes, showing him videos of Algeria, Chechnya and
Palestine. Boukhari said he thought of donating money to
the Algerian freedom struggle but instead used his life
savings of 3000 British pounds to go to Afghanistan via
Pakistan.

17. (SBU) He arrived in Peshawar in early 2000. He was
welcomed by Hassan Aknoush and other Algerians, including a
man named Jaffa. Boukhari trained for five months in
Afghanistan in light and heavy weapons, electronics and
religion. He became ill with malaria and typhoid fever and
returned to Pakistan where he stayed with Jaffa. In
Pakistan, Boukhari got to know Beandali. When Jaffa was
forced to flee, pursued by Pakistani intelligence services,
Boukhari obtained a forged British passport and returned to
London on September 16, 2000. He remarried in October 2000
and had a son on June 19, 2001. He met Noureddine again,
who asked him if he was willing to go to Frankfurt to pick
up some weapons from Aknoush. Boukhari went to Frankfurt in
early November 2000 for a few days. Later in November 2000,
he returned to Frankfurt, accompanied by Maroni, and stayed
with Beandali.

18. (SBU) Boukhari's statements to the court were often
confusing and inconsistent. Regarding his involvement in
the attack in Strasbourg, Boukhari said that the planning
began in early December 2000, and claimed he agreed to
participate if no one would be hurt. He also claimed he
intended to return to London in December 2000, and therefore
would not be present at the time of the attack. Boukhari
admits he was the point of contact for Nourredine in London.
Boukhari claims, however, that Nourreddine did not give
orders or designate a target but gave "only ideas."
Boukhari admitted buying chemicals at different locations in
Germany with the help of Sabour. Boukhari also admitted
making the comment on the surveillance videotape of the
Strasbourg Christmas market, "These are the enemies of God.
They dance and are happy, God willing they will stew in
hell."

19. (SBU) Aknoush stated that Boukhari was in contact with
Abu Doha in London. Boukhari said he had spoken with Abu
Doha but only on the subject of renting rooms in Baden
Baden. Aknoush, in a statement from detention in France,
also said that Boukhari was the assigned leader of the
Frankfurt cell. Boukhari stated that the attack was planned
for the end of January or beginning of February 2001,
perhaps, again to distract from the Christmas market as
target and the charge of attempted murder.

20. (SBU) Boukhari received the longest sentence of the four
defendants, twelve years in prison. Judge Zeiher concluded
he was the "driving force" behind the Frankfurt cell who
obtained money for the operation, purchased the largest
amount of bomb-making materials, and handled logistics. He
cooperated only reluctantly with the court, and frequently
expressed hatred of Jews and western culture.


Defendant, Fouhad Sabour
------------------------

21. (SBU) Fouhad Sabour said that he became involved with
Islamic extremists in London in 1995. In 1996, he was
arrested in France for membership in a terrorist
organization. He admitted being a member of Algeria's GIA
or Armed Islamic Front. He said that he spent a year in
Afghanistan (May 1999 - May 2000) for "Islamic legal
studies." (Note: Presumably, Sabour was also at a terrorist
training camp, though he did not specify where.) There he
met Beandali and Boukhari. It is not clear when Sabour came
to Germany, but he said he met and moved in with Maroni in
the Sigmund Freud Strasse apartment in Frankfurt. Sabour
admitted possessing three fraudulent passports and other
forged documents and using aliases.

22. (SBU) Sabour's role in the plot was unclear. Boukhari,
in his statements, denied that Sabour had any detailed
knowledge of the bombing plans. It seems Sabour was
assigned some duties (specifics unclear) to help in carrying
out the attack together with Boukhari or Beandali. Boukhari
said he and Sabour bought chemicals at different locations
in Germany. Sabour also admitted driving the car to
Strasbourg, accompanying Boukhari to videotape the target.

23. (SBU) Sabour received the second highest sentence of
eleven and a half years. The judges agreed with the
prosecution that Sabour's participation in videotaping the
Christmas market made him a willing accomplice in the
attack.


Defendant, Busid Karimou
------------------------

23. (SBU) Busid Karimou was released from detention on
August 30, 2002. The court could not find any evidence he
was involved in the preparations for the bomb attack, thus
he was only charged with membership in a criminal group,
which carries a one-to-ten year sentence. The judge ordered
Karimou released from custody after he was incarcerated for
17 months, noting that continued detention was unreasonable,
considering that a prisoner can be eligible for an early
release, based on good behavior, after having served two
thirds of the sentence. The judge noted that Karimou had
lied repeatedly, given a false name, and at first denied
that he had trained in Afghanistan, and thus was not
innocent.

25. (SBU) According to his own statement, Karimou was born
in Rabat, Morocco. He moved to Algeria, then to Germany in
February 1999. He applied for asylum in Germany on February
23, 1999 and fell in with hashish dealers while the decision
was pending. He felt he was being pursued by police and
fled to London, where he hoped to get a job and a residence
permit. He began visiting the Finsbury Park mosque in
London and became interested in religion and politics. In
January 2000, he joined a Tunisian friend named Amar and
went to Afghanistan for training. First he stayed with
Jaffa in Peshawar, then went to a camp in Jalalabad. There
he met Boukhari, who had just ended his training. He was
required to turn in his forged French passport. He met
Beandali at a second camp in Khost. The training was harder
than he expected; Karimou said he argued constantly with his
group leader and the other participants. After only three
months of training, he returned to Pakistan, where Jaffa
accused him of being a traitor. Karimou said he got his
forged French passport back only after repeated attempts.

26. (SBU) Karimou returned to London in May 2000 and met an
old friend from Frankfurt, Abdel Hadid. Unable to find a
job in London, Karimou moved to Frankfurt in July 2000. At
first he had no place to stay, but then managed to throw
Aknoush out of his apartment in Sporstrasse 61. (The
landlord was angry because Aknoush had not paid his rent.)
Apparently this apartment was used as a meeting point for
the group, and Beandali and Boukhari were frequent visitors.
Karimou said he had no knowledge of the Strasbourg attack
and was never a member of the group. Beandali, in his
statement, also said Karimou was innocent and not involved
in the plot but only arrested because they were friends.
According to Beandali, Karimou was merely in the wrong place
at the wrong time when arrests were made.

Witnesses, Contacts and Others Connected to the Frankfurt
Cell
--------------------------------------------- ------------

27. (SBU) Mohammed Afane, witness. Born in Algeria, age 26,
arrived in Frankfurt in April 2000 after transiting Spain
and France. Afane said he had met Karimou in Frankfurt, and
knew Karimou's brothers in Algeria. Afane also testified
that he met Boukhari (known to him as Hitscham) in
Weiterstadt prison near Darmstadt. Boukhari asked Afane to
take a letter for him, which Afane declined to do after
reading it. He said the letter mentioned "saving money for
weapons to support our friends" and a man named Suleiman who
was not arrested and "hopefully could make it before he also
gets arrested." Afane assumed Suleiman was a dangerous
terrorist. (Note: Suleiman may be Slimane Khalfaoui or
Slimane Mutamna, see below.)

28. (SBU) Hassan Aknoush (aka Jassin; aka Moheme; aka
Aknouche), witness. In detention in France. He apparently
met Boukhari in Pakistan. Aknoush's written statements were
read by the Frankfurt court. A backpack with Aknoush's
fingerprints was found in Beandali's rental car. Beandali
has stated that the weapons seized in the Frankfurt
apartment belonged to Aknoush, although Beandali denied
Aknoush was connected to the bomb plot. Beandali said he
had known Aknoush since 1999. Aknoush said, in statements
to French authorities cited by the court in Frankfurt, that
Abu Doha was the head of the Frankfurt cell and Boukhari was
his closest contact. Aknoush said that according to a phone
call he had with Abu Doha, Abu Doha "picked Boukhari to be
in charge of the attack in Strasbourg." Aknoush stated, as
reported in French police documents, that Boukhari and
Maroni underwent training with Abu Kahba, an expert in bombs
and chemical weapons connected to Al Qaeda, in Afganistan.

29. (SBU) Abu Doha (aka Dr. Rashid), contact. Suspected
Algerian terrorist leader, in custody in England awaiting
extradition to the United States based on his connection
with the plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport
during the Millenium. He has been described by the media as
the man who supervised Algerian terrorists in Europe once
they had finished their training in Afghanistan. Abu Doha
was a contact of Boukhari's in London. His role in the
planned Strasbourg attack is unclear. Defendant Beandali
has denied Abu Doha was the leader of the Frankfurt cell.
Defendant Boukhari has admitted to telephone conversations
with Abu Doha, but said he has never met him. Boukhari
stated that Abu Doha had instructed the Frankfurt cell,
presumably in December 2000, to rent another apartment "for
a longer time," but Boukhari said that Abu Doha had nothing
to do with the Strasbourg attack and was not the leader of
the Frankfurt cell. However, according to the BKA, British
intelligence reported a telephone conversation between
Boukhari (in Frankfurt) and Abu Doha (in London) on December
24, 2000 in which the attack was discussed and Boukhari asks
Abu Doha for more money for the rooms rented in Frankfurt.

30. (SBU) Mohammed Sadikki (aka Mohammed Bitchu), witness.
Got to know Maroni and Beandali in two German prisons.
Sadikki provided the most extensive testimony of any
witness. According to Sadikki, Maroni admitted to
participation in a number of terrorist operations in the
U.K. Sadikki said Beandali asked him to deliver a message
to a mosque in Frankfurt and talked of the need to fight
Christians and Jews. Beandali mentioned a synagogue in
Lille, France as a potential target. Beandali also told
Sadikki the group planned further attacks in Germany, France
and Spain. Beandali never mentioned the Strasbourg
Christmas market to Sadikki, but Beandali said he would like
to turn Rome, the cradle of Christianity, into ashes.
Sadikki verified Beandali's role as bomb expert and
indicated that Beandali and other members of the group
coordinated their testimonies in prison before the trial
started.

31. (SBU) Sadikki mentioned Usama bin Laden twice. Sadikki
reported that Beandali asked him to contact a man named
Abdul Rachman in London after his release. Beandali
described Rachman as "Usama bin Laden's representative" in
London, who had also promised to take hostages to force the
release of the members of the Frankfurt cell. Sadikki also
testified that Beandali told him that the camp in
Afghanistan at which he was trained was run by Usama bin
Laden. Sadikki also said that the group used forged
documents and stolen credit cards. Sadikki's testimony was
sharply challenged by Beandali's attorney. Sadikki also did
not always strike observers as a credible witness since much
of his testimony consisted of merely confirming statements
he had given earlier to the police. He also seemed to be
exaggerating at times. For example, at one point, he said
the Frankfurt cell had 38 million German marks at their
disposal, which caused the defendants to laugh.

32. (SBU) Slimane Khalfaoui, (aka Azzedine; aka Slimane
Amena; aka Sedine; aka "Tourist"), contact. Was arrested in
an eastern suburb of Paris, France on November 25, 2002 in
connection with the Strasbourg bombing plot. Slimane
Khalfaoui is described by a New York Times report as "an
important member of the Al Qaeda network in Europe," a 27-
year-old with French-Algerian nationality, who fought in
Bosnia and Afghanistan and has been on wanted lists since
1996. Beandali admitted knowing Slimane Khalfaoui. The
police have a recording of a phone conversation between
Slimani Kalfaoui and Beandali from December 25, 2000. They
discussed the whereabouts of Noureddine and Slimane
Kalfaoui's expected arrival in Frankfurt. Slimane Khalfaoui
may have lived in Lyon for a time, providing the Frankfurt
cell with information on Jewish communities. Beandali
stated that Slimane Khalfaoui "sometimes resided in Germany,
but also in France and Britain."

33. (SBU) Abdul Rachman, alleged contact. Described by the
witness Sadikki (see above) as "Usama bin Laden's
representative" in London, who had also promised to take
hostages to force the release of the members of the
Frankfurt cell. Sadikki, in his testimony, stated that
defendant Beandali had asked Sadikki to contact a man named
Abdul Rachman in London after Sadikki's release.

34. (SBU) Meliani, aka Mohamed Bensakhiria, alleged contact.
Currently in French custody. According to an Italian police
report filed with a court in Milan, the Frankfurt cell is
connected to Mohamed Bensakhiria in Italy. Meliani has also
been described as a leader of the Frankfurt cell and the BKA
has investigated other Meliani contacts in Berlin. The
Frankfurt cell's connection to Meliani was never pursued by
the Frankfurt court.

35. (SBU) Lazahr ben Mohamad Tlilli, alleged contact. A 33-
year old Tunisian man was arrested in Marseille in mid-
October 2000. According to the media, Lazahr ben Mohamad
Tlilli was in possession of false documents and telephone
numbers of people suspected of terrorist involvement in
Italy, Germany, Belgium, England and France. Lazahr ben
Mohamad Tlilli is alleged to have connections with at least
one member of the Frankfurt cell. The Frankfurt court did
not pursue this connection.

36. (SBU) Mounir Shuhaib, contact. Another suspected
terrorist and alias of the person who rented the apartment
in Sigmund Freud Strasse according to BKA testimony.

37. (SBU) Hassan Atap, contact. According to Beandali, he
is an opposition leader in Algeria and was his contact for
planning attacks in Algeria.

38. (SBU) Jaffa, contact. For a time based in Peshawar,
described by Boukhari as a member of the Takfiri group, more
extremist than the Taliban. Karimou also mentioned Jaffa in
Peshawar. Karimou said Jaffa accused him of being a traitor
when Karimou gave up after only three months of training in
Afghanistan. Jaffa was reluctant to return to Karimou his
forged French passport. (Note: Perhaps this is the Abu
Jaffar mentioned by Ahmed Ressam, the millennium bomber in
his 2001 testimony, as "in charge of the Algerian cells"
training in Afghanistan. Abu Jaffar was also described by
Ressam as being a camp leader, and training recruits in the
use of TNT and C4 explosives.)

39. (SBU) Djoumakh, alleged contact. In detention in
France, presumed Algerian. Mentioned in the November 23,
2002 trial session by Judge Zeiher as a friend of Slimane
Mutamna. Prosecutor Brinkmann said that Djoumakh had
testified on contacts Maroni, Boukhari and Sabour had with
Abu Doha and Slimane Mutamna in London.

40. (SBU) Salime (also Slimane) Mutamna, contact. Boukhari
said he, Salime Mutamna and Sabour were all together in
Frankfurt in November 2000, where they attempted to purchase
weapons for Algeria.


Motivation, Connection to Al Qaeda?
-----------------------------------

41. (SBU) The defendants gave various and contradictory
explanations of their motivation for a terrorist attack.
Beandali, the most active in Algerian causes, claimed anger
at human rights abuses in Algeria or "fighting the dangerous
regime" in Algeria a motivation. Beandali stated the
weapons seized by authorities were intended for Algeria.
Boukhari and Sabour also cited solidarity with the "struggle
of the Palestinian people" as a reason. A desire to disrupt
relations between France and Israel was also mentioned. All
defendants seem to share a general hatred of Jews and
Christians as shown in statements such as, "Non-believers
don't deserve to breathe. They are the enemies of God...."
The court did not establish any clear motivation for the
attack by the Frankfurt cell -- or any of its members -- or
why Strasbourg in particular was selected as a target,
though clearly the Strasbourg cathedral and market are
heavily symbolic. The defendants have given contradictory
statements about whose idea the attack was. Sabour stated
it was the idea of the Frankfurt cell alone, while Beandali
said that Boukhari received orders for the attack from
London. Defendants are vigorous in denying any connection
to Al Qaeda, though their training in Afghanistan camps and
contact with other known Al Qaeda network members make this
claim somewhat doubtful. The court abandoned attempts to
prove an Al Qaeda connection by dropping membership in a
terrorit organization charges in January, 2003.


What was the London Connection? What was the role of Abu
Doha and Noureddine?
--------------------------------------------- -----------

42. (SBU) Abu Doha: The London connection to the Frankfurt
cell is unclear. According to the BKA, British intelligence
reported a phone call between Boukhari (in Frankfurt) and
Abu Doha (in London) on December 24, 2000, in which a
terrorist attack is discussed and Boukhari asks Abu Doha for
more German money to pay for two rooms rented in Frankfurt.
Boukhari admitted to having phone conversations with Abu
Doha, but denied Abu Doha was the leader of the group. The
criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New
York alleges that Abu Doha facilitated the travel of
trainees into Al-Qaeda-affiliated training camps and was
responsible for establishing communication among various
cells in the training camps (see par. 8). In addition, in
press statements, the prosecutors described Abu Doha as a
key figure in Al Qaeda.

43. (SBU) Noureddine (never further identified), Beandali's
View: Noureddine was another London contact frequently
mentioned. Beandali said he distrusted Noureddine. He said
he met him in Afghanistan and noted he did not follow
Islamic washing rites. He described Noureddine as an
Algerian with a French passport living in London. He stated
that Noureddine was an undercover agent of French
intelligence and that Noureddine had told Beandali that the
French secret service had offered him money to inform on
Algerians living in London and Afghanistan. Beandali also
heard from a man known as "the Emir" that Noureddine was an
informer. Beandali also said that Noureddine was flown out
of the Balkans by the French government. Noureddine was
also interested in a man named Hisham, whom Beandali claimed
was wanted by the FBI. Beandali said he helped Hisham
escape from Afghanistan to London, then to Germany and
Spain. Eventually, Hisham was arrested in Algeria and
Beandali believes Noureddine turned Hisham into the
authorities. Thus for several reasons, Beandali felt
Noureddine was an informer. In a somewhat contradictory
statement, however, Beandali suspected Noureddine of
directing the attack in Strasbourg (Comment: This seems
strange for a French intelligence agent. End comment) and
giving orders to Boukhari from London. Beandali told Judge
Zeiher, when he "heard Noureddine in London was behind the
plan," he "found it unlikely that the target was an empty
building. A guy like Noureddine certainly had something
more spectacular in mind, something where people could be
hurt."

44. (SBU) Noureddine, Boukhari's View: In contrast, Boukhari
appears to have been a rather close friend of Noureddine.
Boukhari stayed with Noureddine at his London apartment at
various times and between his marriages. Noureddine
apparently nudged Boukhari in the direction of Islamic
extremism, inspiring him to train in Afghanistan. Boukhari
also said that the Frankfurt cell had 20,000 German marks at
their disposal, which Noureddine had brought from London.
Boukhari has been vague about Noureddine's role in the
Strasbourg attack, but has stated that Noureddine only gave
"ideas, not orders."


CONCLUSIONS AND COMMENT
-----------------------

45. (SBU) The defendants, all of Algerian or Moroccan
origin, spent time in western Europe (especially France,
England and Germany), and were involved in terrorist and/or
criminal activity for several years. They moved easily in
and out of Germany and around western Europe. Four of the
five (all but Maroni) have admitted to training in
Afghanistan. Three of the five (Beandali, Boukhari,
Karimou) admitted to training in terrorist camps there. A
witness, Hassan Aknoush, has stated that Maroni also trained
with terrorists in Afghanistan. Thus if Aknoush is correct,
all five defendants trained in Afghanistan. The Frankfurt
cell was planning some type of bomb attack in Strasbourg and
had gathered significant bomb-making materials for the job.
The Frankfurt cell had definite connections to others
assumed to be terrorists or Islamic extremists in England
and France. Although the court could not prove an Al Qaeda
connection, defendants admitted contact with Slimane
Khalfaoui (in France, alleged member of Al Qaeda network),
Abu Doha (in London, alleged member of Al Qaeda network);
and Noureddine (in London, affiliation unknown.) In reading
the sentences, Judge Zeiher said that the arrest of the
defendants had "prevented a bloodbath."

46. (U) This message has been coordinated with Embassy
Berlin.

BODDE

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