BERLIN (Reuters) – A Moroccan associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers is being moved from a German prison in preparation for deportation after serving most of a 15-year jail term for helping organize the 2011 attacks on U.S. targets, authorities said on Monday.
Mounir El Motassadeq was a member of a group of radical Islamists based in the northern German port city of Hamburg who helped bring about the suicide attacks with hijacked airliners that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Handed the maximum sentence of 15 years in 2007 for being an accessory to mass murder, Motassadeq is one of only two men convicted to date of involvement in the plot.
“Everything is going according to plan,” said a spokesman for the state of Hamburg’s interior ministry, declining to give details, other than to say that Motassadeq’s release was permissible from Oct. 15 if he was deported immediately.
Photographs showed a man with covered eyes being led by two armed policemen to a helicopter. German media reported that he would be taken to Frankfurt to be deported to Morocco, where his family lives.
The spokesman in Hamburg could not say exactly when his sentence was due to end. German media have reported he was due to stay behind bars until November or early next year.
At his 2007 trial, his lawyers argued that Motassadeq knew nothing about the Sept. 11 plot. But prosecutors said he played a central role in suicide hijacker Mohammed Atta’s group by running the financial affairs of some cell members.
Authorities in Hamburg said they would confirm the deportation once it has taken place.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich)