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9/11 Accomplice Released From Prison

Germany deported Mounir el-Motassadeq to Morocco
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2018 2:06 PM CDT
The terrorist helper Mounir el Motassadeq, center, is led by police officers from a helicopter at the business aviation centre in Hamburg, northern Germany, Monday, Oct.15, 2018.   (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa/via AP)
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(Newser) – The first person to be convicted in connection with the 9/11 terror attacks was released from prison in Germany Monday. Mounir el-Motassadeq, convicted of being an accomplice in the US attacks, is being deported to his native Morocco, the BBC reports. He had served almost 15 years in prison, nearly his entire sentence. He was being transported under heavy security, and was accompanied by several police officers on his commercial flight to Morocco, but once he gets there it's not clear what will happen to him. Motassadeq was friends with Mohammed Atta, who allegedly flew one of the hijacked planes on 9/11, and other members of the Hamburg cell of al-Qaeda that orchestrated the attacks, but he has long denied involvement. Deutsche Welle has an extensive look at the cell and how Motassadeq got involved.

Motassadeq, who arrived in Germany to study engineering at age 19, admitted to the aforementioned friendships as well as to having spent time at an Afghanistan al-Qaeda camp in 2000; he also signed Atta's will. After investigators found that he had power of attorney over a bank account owned by one of the other alleged 9/11 pilots and that he had arranged a bank transfer for some of the cell members who underwent flight training in the US, prosecutors labeled him as the cell's treasurer. He maintained, over five years of trials involving convictions, appeals, and overturned verdicts, that he was simply doing favors for his friends and had no knowledge of the impending attacks. He was ultimately found guilty of membership in a terrorist organization and being an accessory to murder, and received the maximum sentence. He was released early in exchange for agreeing to be deported, the AP reports. He can be arrested if he ever returns to Germany. (Under the World Trade Center, a "poignantly defiant" rebirth.)

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