Suspected Al-Qaeda member goes on trial in Germany

German-Afghan Ahmad Wali Siddiqui, center, waits for the beginning of his trial at a court in Koblenz, Germany, Monday, March 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

BERLIN: An alleged Al-Qaeda militant held for nine months in Afghanistan whose tips helped spark a travel alert in Europe in 2010 over potential attacks went on trial Monday in Germany.

The 37-year-old Ahmed Wali Siddiqui, who has Afghan and German citizenship, stands accused of membership of two "foreign terrorist organizations", Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

"The trial began as planned," a spokesman for the higher regional court in the western city of Koblenz said.

Western powers say IMU aims to establish Islamic sharia law in central Asia and is waging a guerrilla campaign against security forces in Pakistan and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

US forces detained Siddiqui in July 2010 in Kabul and held him at Bagram air base outside the Afghan capital.

Information he provided during interrogation reportedly prompted US authorities to warn in October 2010 of an Al-Qaeda plot to carry out attacks in Britain, France and Germany.

All three countries subsequently beefed up security.

German authorities were allowed to question Siddiqui at Bagram on several occasions and secured his extradition last April.

According to German media, Siddiqui met in June 2010 with Al-Qaeda's third in command, Sheikh Yunis al-Mauretani, who initiated him into a plot to carry out attacks in Europe similar to those in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 in which 10 gunmen killed 166 people and wounded more than 300.

Federal prosecutors say Siddiqui left Germany in March 2009 to attend an IMU camp on the restive border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and undergo weapons and explosives training and became an IMU member in May of that year.

But that summer, he allegedly turned his back on the IMU to join Al-Qaeda, which prosecutors say gave him further preparation for armed combat.

Prosecutors say Siddiqui, after meeting a "high-ranking Al-Qaeda operative", was told to recruit people in Germany for a European network of militants.

"The network was to receive financial backing from the organization and stand ready to carry out other, not yet specified tasks for the Al-Qaeda leadership," the court said in a statement quoting prosecutors.





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