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Funds wired to 2 suspects in N.Y. bombing traced to Germany


NEW YORK -- The foreign funds wired over recent months into the New Jersey joint bank account of two arrested suspects in the World Trade Center bombing have been traced to Germany, law-enforcement officials said yesterday.

Germany has one of the largest Islamic communities in Europe and has been used by an array of Middle East terrorist organizations as a base of operations, intelligence experts said. But investigators said they were not sure where in Germany the $8,000 originated or whether it was provided to underwrite the Feb. 26 attack, which killed five people and injured more than 1,000.

At the German consulate in Manhattan, press attache Dieter Schulenberg said he was unaware of any information linking the attack to Germany.

Two other bank accounts in Jersey City, N.J., have now been found under the name of the first arrested suspect, Mohammed Salameh, a 25-year-old Palestinian, but investigators said they did not know of any foreign transfers into those accounts.

The New York Times reported yesterday that federal investigators had uncovered wire transfers of $8,000 from Europe into a joint account of Mr. Salameh and a Kuwaiti-born chemical engineer, Nidal Ayyad, at a branch of the National Westminster Bank in Jersey City.

Officials said yesterday that the money was wired in amounts of $5,500 and $2,500 sometime last year and was withdrawn by Mr. Salameh about a month later.

Mr. Ayyad, 25, of Maplewood, N.J., was arrested early Wednesday on charges of aiding Mr. Salameh in the bombing.

The government contended that Mr. Salameh had repeatedly telephoned Mr. Ayyad a day before the bombing from a storage company where bomb-making chemicals were kept. It contended that Mr. Ayyad was present when Mr. Salameh leased a Ford van that investigators believe carried a 1,000-pound bomb into the trade center's underground parking garage.

As federal agents struggled yesterday to follow the electronic trail of the money, the State Department said it saw no reason yet to conclude that the attack had been directed from abroad.

Richard Boucher, the department's chief spokesman, said the United States remains determined "to get to the bottom of this and follow the trail wherever it leads." But he said it would be the task of investigators to determine whether the bombing had international links.

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