Thursday, December 19, 2002
SEATTLE — German officials in Seattle Wednesday
questioned Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian convicted in an unsuccessful plot
to bomb Los Angeles International Airport, about the structure of the Al
Qaeda terrorist network, an attorney who took part in the proceedings
"The question is how the
network of Al Qaeda works," said
Ulrich von Jeinsen, a German attorney who represents the Families
of Sept. 11 Organization. German law allows relatives of crime victims
or their lawyers to participate in trials.
"Ressam is a member of Al Qaeda. He
had been in Afghanistan for training," von Jeinsen said. He did not
elaborate on the testimony.
The deposition was part of the
German trial of Mounir el Motassadeq, 28, a Moroccan accused of
providing logistical support to hijacker Mohamed Atta and others in the
Hamburg Al Qaeda cell.
He is charged with membership in a
terrorist organization and more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder,
and faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
German court officials arrived in
Seattle on Monday and conducted their questioning under German law. The
deposition had been expected to take three days, but ended after two.
Only 28 people were allowed inside
the courtroom under security measures that are stricter than those
imposed by the U.S. government after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Ressam's direct connection to el
Motassadeq remained unclear, but Germany's chief federal prosecutor, Kay
Nehm, has cited information from Ressam as key to the indictment against
El Motassadeq's lawyer, Hans
Leistritz, has said his client never knew Ressam, saying the only
experience they shared was training in Afghan camps.
Ressam was arrested in Port Angeles
as he entered the country from Canada in December 1999. He was later
convicted for his role in an unsuccessful plot to bomb Los Angeles
International Airport at the peak of travel around Jan. 1, 2000. His
sentencing was delayed to allow him to testify against others accused of
Presiding over the deposition was
Judge Albrecht Mentz, from the Hamburg court that is trying el
Also participating were two other
judges, defense lawyers, prosecutors and at least two attorneys
representing victims and relatives of those killed Sept. 11.