Germany arrested a Turkish man last week at Frankfurt Airport as he was about to board an Iran Air flight to Tehran with luggage containing camouflage clothing, a chemical-weapons protection suit, a ski mask and materials to produce an explosive detonator, the German federal prosecutor said today.
In Britain today, the police burst into a west London apartment and arrested a 38-year-old Egyptian whose detention had been urged by members of Parliament after reports that he was implicated in the assassination of an Afghan opposition leader shortly before the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
There was no apparent link between the man arrested in Germany and the Sept. 11 attacks. In Britain, police officials declined to say whether there was any clear evidence of a connection.
The Turkish man arrested in Germany, Harun Aydin, 29, was a student who had been living in Germany. He was described as a leading member of a militant group based in Cologne and led by Muhammed Metin Kaplan, known as ”the caliph of Cologne,” who wants to unite the Islamic world in a single caliphate based in a liberated Istanbul.
Federal prosecutors say members of Mr. Kaplan’s group had contacts with Osama bin Laden and his network, Al Qaeda, in 1996 and 1997, but that they have no evidence of more recent contact.
Mr. Kaplan came to Germany in 1983 and was given political asylum because he had been under a death sentence in Turkey. His organization publishes a weekly newspaper here, has an active Web site and produces a weekly television show that is beamed into Turkey.
The man arrested in Britain, Yasser al-Siri, was said by police officials and in news media reports to have fled to Britain eight years ago and to have sought asylum after an Egyptian court found him guilty in his absence of a failed bomb attack on Prime Minister Atef Sidki in Cairo that killed a young schoolgirl.
Last month, members of Parliament urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to investigate Mr. Siri’s presence in Britain following newspaper reports saying he supplied documents to help two men who assassinated Ahmed Shah Massoud, the military leader of the opposition Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.
Mr. Siri has been linked to an organization called the Islamic Observation Center in London, which describes itself as ”concerned with human rights issues for Muslims all over the world.”
British officials have accused the organization of issuing a statement on behalf of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network.
But Mr. Siri, who was arrested under Britain’s Terrorism Act, insisted in a recent newspaper interview that he was no more than a ”messenger” and had no connection to Mr. bin Laden.
His arrest highlighted the quandary facing European nations like Britain, where laws offering sanctuary to seekers of political asylum are seen by American investigators as sheltering fugitives from justice.
His arrest coincides with two other episodes in which Britain is moving against nationals of Arab states who claim they are peaceful dissidents while American agencies identify them as linked to Mr. bin Laden’s terrorism network.
Khalid al Fawwaz, 37, a Saudi businessman, and Ibrahim Eidarous, 39, and Adel Abdel Bari, 42, both Egyptians, took their case against extradition to the House of Lords today.
The United States says the men should be extradited to face trial in connection with the 1998 bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed more than 200 people.
Mr. Fawwaz has been linked to a London group called the Advice and Reformation Committee. His lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, acknowledged a link between the group and Mr. bin Laden, but said it was a peaceful group seeking reform in Saudi Arabia.
American prosecutors say the committee is a front organization for Al Qaeda, and that the two Egyptians are members of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad extremist group. The three men, who were arrested on international warrants more than two years ago, deny the charges.
In a separate move, British authorities have frozen the assets of Abu Qatada, 40, a Jordanian cleric living in London, who is accused by American authorities of being a senior associate of Mr. bin Laden.
He has been convicted in his absence in Jordan of terrorism offenses relating to bomb attacks in 1998.
——————– Laws a Hindrance
OTTAWA, Oct. 23, (Reuters) — Canada’s top police official said today that existing laws had hampered the fight against terrorism.
The Canadian government has been trying since Sept. 11 to convince both its citizens and the United States government that it was not a haven for terrorists.
But Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, the head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said security agencies currently were held back from tracking down and stopping extremists.
”Some people say that Canada already has a strong legislative framework and enforcement capacity to deal with terrorist threats,” he told a parliamentary committee examining a new antiterrorism bill. ”It has been our experience based on our investigations into the tragic events of Sept. 11 that that is not true.”
New legislation, introduced by the government on Oct. 15 and supported by the Mounties, would expand police authority to tap phones and electronic mail. It would allow preventive arrests, without official charges, in extreme cases, and would allow the police to force people to testify against others in judicial investigative hearings.