Iraqi Arrested For Funding Al Qaeda

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The New York Sun

BERLIN – An Iraqi man has been arrested in Germany on suspicion he transferred money to a radical Islamic group in Iraq linked to Al Qaeda, prosecutors said yesterday.

The 36-year-old man, identified only as Burhan B., was arrested Monday at Frankfurt’s airport. A federal judge ordered him to remain in custody Tuesday on suspicion of supporting a foreign terrorist organization and violating German export laws, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

They said the suspect was in contact with a man, identified only as Ata A.R., accused of playing a central role in the terror group Ansar al-Islam’s European network. Ata A.R. is due to go on trial in Stuttgart next week as the alleged ringleader of a December 2004 plot to kill then-Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi during a visit to Germany.

Prosecutors said Burhan B. made at least three transfers totaling more than $27,000 to Ansar al-Islam on Ata A.R.’s behalf. The transfers were made between November 2003 and May 2004.

Supporting a terrorist organization carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Ansar al-Islam, which was formed in the Kurdish parts of Iraq, is believed to include former Al Qaeda members who fled the American-led ouster of Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers.

The organization is suspected of a string of deadly attacks on American troops and Iraqi police, as well as the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad and the Red Cross in Iraq. Prosecutors say the group is now operating under the guise of Ansar al-Sunna.

Ata A.R. and two co-defendants were arrested in pre-dawn raids on December 3, 2004, hours before they allegedly planned to attack Mr. Allawi at a business forum in a downtown Berlin bank.

Prosecutors have not said what kind of attack was planned at the forum, which was canceled.

Another alleged associate of Ata A.R. is due to go on trial in Munich next week for being a member of Ansar al-Islam. Prosecutors charge that Ferhad Kanabi A., another Iraqi, was responsible for collecting funds in the Munich area and helping Ata A.R. send the money to Iraq.

German authorities have had suspected supporters of the group under intense scrutiny since late 2003, when an Iraqi, Amin Lokman Mohamed, was arrested in Munich for allegedly channeling men and money to Ansar al-Islam.

Mohamed was convicted earlier this year of membership of the group and smuggling volunteer fighters from Europe to Iraq. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.

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