German-Afghan Charged With Al Qaeda Membership

A German-Afghan man whose information led to terrorism warnings across Europe last year has been charged with being a member of Al Qaeda, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Ahmad Wali Siddiqui was captured by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in July 2010 and while in custody provided details on alleged plots linked to the terror network that supposedly targeted European cities. No attacks materialized.

Federal prosecutors' spokesman Marcus Koehler said Thursday that his office had charged the 37-year-old, identified only as Ahmad Wali S. in accordance with German privacy laws, with membership in the extremist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Al Qaeda on Nov. 2.

Siddiqui is accused of training with both groups in Pakistan in the border region with Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 with the aim of taking part in violent jihad, or holy war, Koehler said in a statement. He could not immediately be reached to elaborate beyond the release.

At an IMU camp, Siddiqui underwent general military training and helped produce a German-language propaganda film, Koehler said. In the summer of 2009 he moved to an Al Qaeda training area where he learned how to use heavy weapons, including anti-tank weapons and mortars.

In June 2010, a "high ranking Al Qaeda member" tasked Siddiqui to return to Germany to become part of a European network of the terrorist organization, the statement said.

"The network was supposed to secure financial support for the organization but at the same time be ready for other, not yet concrete, orders from the Al Qaeda leadership," Koehler said.

He slipped across the border into Afghanistan to return from there to Germany, but was captured by American troops in Kabul before he could leave the country, Koehler said.

While in American custody, intelligence sources have said he provided interrogators details of an early stage terrorist plot in Europe last year, which led the U.S. and others to issue a travel alert for Europe.

He was turned over to German authorities in April. No date has yet been set for his trial.

Before going to Pakistan, Siddiqui and several other suspects met at Hamburg's al-Quds mosque, the prayer house that had served as gathering point for some of the Sept. 11 attackers before they moved to the United States to attend flight schools in 2000, German intelligence officials have said. Authorities shut down the mosque last year.

Intelligence officials also said Siddiqui was a friend of Mounir el Motassadeq, who was convicted by a German court in 2006 of being an accessory to the murder of the 246 passengers and crew on the four jetliners used in the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who also frequented the al-Quds mosque.