Confession in German al-Qaeda trial

German-Syrian man, offered reduced sentence in return for confession, was arrested in Pakistan disguised in a burqa.

    Rami Makanesi, foreground left, awaits the beginning of his trial at a court in Frankfurt, Germany

    A 25-year-old German-Syrian dual national has pleaded guilty to charges of belonging to an Al-Qaeda-linked terror cell which trained him in Pakistan.

    Rami Makenesi, on his first day in court on Thursday, provided a full confession in exchange for a reduced prison sentence of no more than five years, in a deal offered by the prosecution.

    "I didn't fit in with Germany anymore", the Frankfurt-born Makenesi told the court to explain why he left the country in March 2009 to seek training with a militant group in Pakistan.

    He was arrested in June in Pakistan as he was about to return to Germany.  He told the court he had received weapons training, but decided he did not want to fight.]

    "I wanted to help Al-Qaeda in other ways", especially financially by helping to raise funds, he added.

    Presiding judge Thomas Sagebiel had earlier said he would be willing to consider a maximum jail term of five years and count the time Makenesi had already spent in custody against the sentence if the accused agreed to answer fully investigators' questions.

    According to German security officials, he surrendered voluntarily to Pakistani authorities. Information provided by him and by another German arrested in Afghanistan prompted a security clampdown in Germany in November, resulting notably in the closing of the federal parliament building in Berlin to most visitors.

    Burqa disguise

    "Everyone will get to hear exactly what he did. We aren't dealing with an active fighter in the true sense," Koch said, adding it is unclear what sort and how much fighting Rami did while in Pakistan.

    After informing a high-ranking al-Qaeda member that he no longer wanted to fight in Pakistan, Rami was to be the international terror network's contact and fundraiser in Germany, the government said. 

    Prosecutors said he had made contact with the German embassy in Islamabad to clear up formalities ahead of returning to Germany. Rami was arrested shortly after while seeking treatment for a broken leg, German media reported.

    He is said to have disguised himself in a burqa, but his height aroused the suspicions of the Pakistani police, who arrested him. Koch said his client voluntarily chose to return to Germany.

    "There is reliable evidence that he wanted to return on his own -- possibly home to his family and also away from (al-Qaeda)," defence attorney Michael Koch said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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