3 Iraqis on Trial for Plot to Kill Allawi

The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 20, 2006; 11:17 AM

STUTTGART, Germany -- Three Iraqi men went on trial Tuesday on charges they plotted to kill Iraq's then-Prime Minister Ayad Allawi during a visit to Germany in 2004.

Ata Abdoulaziz Rashid, 32, Mazen Ali Hussein, 24, and Rafik Mohamad Yousef, 31, face charges of conspiracy and membership in Ansar al-Islam, a radical Islamic group linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

The three, who are also suspected of helping to raise funds and organize recruits for Ansar al-Islam, were arrested in pre-dawn raids on Dec. 3, 2004 and have been held in police custody since then.

The trial is one of three in Germany with a total of eight defendants linked by prosecutors to terror groups Ansar al-Islam or al-Qaida.

The prosecutions result from Germany's ongoing crackdown on radical Islamic activists in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Three of the Sept. 11 suicide pilots _ Mohamed Atta, Zaid Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi _ lived and studied in Hamburg before heading to flight schools in the United States.

In the Stuttgart case, police say Yousef phoned the other two defendants, described as more senior members of the group, to request approval for an attempt to kill Allawi at a business forum in Berlin. They allegedly gave their approval and a promise of financial help, and Yousef allegedly inspected the scene of the attack.

The event was canceled after the arrests.

As the trial opened Tuesday, the defendants said little beyond Yousef's statement that "there are 50 mistakes in the indictment, and I can prove it."

The proceedings were delayed as defense attorneys for two of the defendants made a motion for the full indictment to be translated into Arabic, instead of just Kurdish, which they said their clients do not understand well.

If found guilty, the three could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Ansar al-Islam, which was formed in the Kurdish parts of Iraq, is believed to be behind attacks on U.S. and allied troops in Iraq.

Two other Iraqis went on trial Tuesday in a Munich state court on charges they belonged to or supported the group.

Ferhad Kanabi Ahmad and Dieman Abdulkadir Izzat, who have been in custody for the past year, came to the courthouse with their faces covered to prevent photographers from taking their pictures. Both men face maximum sentences of 10 years if convicted.

In a third trial, at a high-security courtroom in Duesseldorf, three defendants are accused of planning an elaborate insurance fraud to raise money for al-Qaida. Ibrahim Mohamed Khalil and brothers Yasser Abu Shaweesh and Ismail Abu Shaweesh are accused of taking out life insurance polices on Yasser Abu Shaweesh. The three planned to fake Yasser Abu Shaweesh's death in a car crash and use the insurance payout to support al-Qaida, prosecutors say.

© 2006 The Associated Press