Suspected Qaeda man on trial in Germany
KOBLENZ (GERMANY) A GERMAN-AFGHAN man whose information prompted terrorism warnings across Europe in 2010 went on trial in western Germany on Monday on charges he was a member of Al Qaeda and another terrorist group.
Ahmad Wali Siddiqui looked relaxed as his trial opened at a court in the western city of Koblenz, chatting with his attorneys before beginning a lengthy statement to the court.
No pleas are entered under the German system and Siddiqui did not immediately address the charges against him, telling the court about his upbringing and how he immigrated to Germany as a teenager.
The 37-year-old was captured by US troops in Afghanistan in July 2010 and while in custody provided details on alleged Al Qaeda plots supposedly targeting European cities. No attacks materialised.
He is accused of membership in Al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and faces a possible 10 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors allege that Siddiqui trained with both terrorist groups in Pakistan and in the border region with Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, with the aim of taking part in violent jihad, or holy war.
Authorities have said he was one of about a dozen radical Muslims who left the northern German port city of Hamburg in 2009 to pursue terrorist training in the border region.
Several of them have been captured or killed.
Another member of the group, German-Syrian dual national Rami Makanesi, was convicted last year in a Frankfurt state court of membership in Al Qaeda and sentenced to four years and nine months. He was arrested in Pakistan in June 2010 and then extradited to Germany.
Before going to Pakistan, Siddiqui and several other suspects met at Hamburg’s al- Quds mosque, the prayer house that had served as a gathering point for some of the September 11 attackers before they moved to the US to attend flight schools in 2000, German intelligence officials have said.