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Monday, February 16, 2004

Abu Ala meets with German president in Berlin . . .

German President Johannes Rau and Palestinian Prime Minister
Ahmed Kurei (L) address a news conference after a meeting at the
presidential residence Bellevue Castle in Berlin, February 16, 2004.
REUTER/Arnd Wiegmann
While 4 Arabs -including a Palestinian- go on trial
for alleged plot to bomb German Jewish targets

Reuters: DUESSELDORF, Germany - Four Arabs went on trial Tuesday in a case linked to an alleged plot to bomb Jewish targets in Germany by a group the United States has linked to al Qaeda.

Two Jordanians and a Palestinian appeared before the court in the west German city of Duesseldorf accused of belonging to the Islamic militant group al Tawhid, which the prosecution says planned attacks in Berlin and Duesseldorf.

Jordanian Mohamad Abu Dhees
covers his face with the Koran
at the start of his trial in Duesseldorf,
Germany February 10, 2004. (Reuters)

A fourth man, an Algerian, was charged with supporting the group and breaking Germany's weapons laws.

Prosecutors allege the al Tawhid "cell" had planned to bomb a Jewish target in Berlin and detonate hand grenades at Jewish restaurants in Duesseldorf with the aim of killing as many people as possible...

All four were arrested on April 23, 2002, along with a fifth man, Shadi Mohammad Mustafa Abdalla, who was tried separately last year after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.

Abdalla, a Jordanian who claimed to have served briefly as a bodyguard for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, received a four-year suspended sentence in November.

He also testified in the separate Hamburg trial of a Moroccan man acquitted last week on charges of aiding the hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities.

The Duesseldorf trial was scheduled to continue on at least February 11, 12, 17 and 18, after which there will be a 10-day pause, the court said in a statement.