Bonn Helping US Track Money Transfer To Bomb Suspects With AM-Trade Center-Bombing
BERLIN (AP) _ The Bonn government is helping U.S. authorities trace a money transfer from Germany to suspects in the World Trade Center bombing, federal officials said Friday.
A Duesseldorf bank confirmed that it transferred $2,420.87 on Feb. 17 to a New Jersey bank account jointly held by two Palestinian suspects in last month’s attack.
Thomas Rindsfuesser, a spokesman for the German federal criminal police in Wiesbaden, said U.S. authorities had asked the Justice Ministry in Bonn to check out the reports of the Dusseldorf bank’s involvement.
He said investigators would then contact the bank for further information.
Klaus Meyer, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry in Bonn, said German authorities would work on the U.S. request ″as quickly as possible.″
Germany is home to a large Muslim population, and Middle East terrorists have previously used the country as a base.
The FBI is trying to pinpoint the source of thousands of dollars in overseas wire transfers that are believed to have been paid for the bombing of the World Trade Center, a U.S. federal investigator said.
The New York Times and New York Newsday, citing unidentified sources, reported Friday that $8,000 wired to the account was traced to Germany.
Henning Rautenberg, a spokesman for the Duesseldorf bank, said $2,420.87 was transferred from his institution to a bank account in New Jersey held by the bombing suspects, Mohammed Salameh and Nidal Ayyad.
Rautenberg said his bank, the Westdeutsche Genossenschaftszentralbank, wired the money at the request of one of 500 member banks that belong to a cooperative banking system.
The spokesman declined to identify the member bank or say who had provided the money, citing bank secrecy laws.
Rautenberg said the bank makes more than a million transfers a day, and the amount that was transferred ″is not something that is out of the ordinary or that would raise any attention.″
Salameh, 25, is an illegal alien from Jordan who was arrested on March 4 in Jersey City, N.J., where he was living. Ayyad, 25, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Palestinian descent, was arrested on Wednesday at his home in Maplewood, N.J.
Both are charged with aiding in the Feb. 26 bombing, which killed at least five people, injured more than 1,000 and shut the world’s second-tallest buildings until at least the end of March.