Three arrested in German big sweep of suspected terrorist sites

By wire services
Published June 15, 2005

BERLIN - German authorities said they detained three men Tuesday on charges that they funneled thousands of dollars to the Ansar al-Islam network to support terrorist attacks in Iraq, the latest in a string of arrests of suspected Ansar operatives in Europe.

The arrests took place early Tuesday as more than 150 police officers conducted raids on two dozen properties across Germany, as well as another site in Switzerland, searching for evidence that Ansar was using central Europe as a fundraising and smuggling base for its operations in Iraq.

It was the fourth major sweep carried out by counterterrorism agents in Germany since December, when three Iraqis were arrested and charged with planning an attack against then Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi during a visit to Berlin.

According to the German federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe, the three men were arrested Tuesday in Nuremberg, Munich and Buehl, a town in southwestern Germany. The suspects are charged with raising thousands of dollars "to finance terrorist attacks" on behalf of Ansar in Iraq and "to secure the logistical and structural foundation of the group," according to a statement released by prosecutors.

Authorities did not fully identify the men, as is customary in German criminal cases that are in the early stages of prosecution.

Moussaoui's lawyers face battle

WASHINGTON - Lawyers for admitted terrorist conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui are fighting an uphill battle to preserve what may be his strongest argument for escaping the death penalty: that Moussaoui is a mental case.

The biggest problem for the defense is that Moussaoui insists he's perfectly sane.

In a newly released court filing, Moussaoui's attorneys suggest the U.S. government is trying to exploit the defendant's insistence on his own sanity to bar introduction of all evidence about his mental state.

"The government now wants to truly reduce the capital sentencing process to shooting fish in a barrel," Moussaoui's lawyers said in court papers this week.

Prosecutors say that if Moussaoui's legal team intends to introduce evidence of psychological problems at his sentencing trial next year, the government is entitled to have medical experts of its own choosing conduct a psychological evaluation of the defendant. The government is seeking a court order to that effect.

The U.S. government says it is only protecting its rights in demanding that it be allowed to conduct an evaluation when Moussaoui's lawyers push to present mental health evidence their own experts have gathered about Moussaoui's mental state.

Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six felonies in April, four of which carry a maximum penalty of death.

Airline defense unveiled

LE BOURGET, France - Raytheon Co. said Tuesday it has developed a high-powered microwave beam to defend airliners from missiles and is urging the U.S. government to deploy it at major airports to foil possible terrorist attacks.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has already acknowledged concerns about the potential for attacks on jets from shoulder-fired missile launchers. In August, it awarded two $45 million contracts to Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp. and Britain's BAE Systems PLC to develop antimissile lasers for commercial planes.

But Raytheon, a Waltham, Mass., defense electronics supplier, argued in a presentation at the Paris Air Show that its ground-based system is more cost-effective and, unlike the on-board alternatives, already tested in the field.

Its technology, called "Vigilant Eagle," uses a network of infrared sensors to set up a "protective dome" around an airport. When a surface-to-air missile is detected, a billboard-sized microwave gun blasts the missile with a high-energy microwave beam, confusing its guidance system and preventing it from finding its target.