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Suspected bin Laden Backer Caught

October 12, 2001

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BERLIN (AP) _ A Libyan man arrested for suspected links to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network will be extradited to Italy for possible trial, officials said Thursday.

Police arrested Lased Ben Henin, 32, near his Munich home Wednesday in coordinated raids with Italian authorities that also included the arrest of two Tunisians in Italy.

The trio were not directly connected to the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, but were part of a wider crackdown on Islamic militants allegedly linked to bin Laden’s al-Qaida network.

Bruno Megale, an official of Italy’s anti-terrorist police, said Wednesday that Ben Henin had trained at Afghan camps believed to be run by bin Laden _ and was ``very ideologically motivated.

Italian prosecutors charged the Libyan and the two Tunisians with criminal association intended to obtain and transport arms and explosives, and supplying false documents.

Ben Henin denied the charges at a hearing Thursday but waived his right to challenge extradition, avoiding a legal process that could take months, Bavarian state justice ministry spokesman Gerhard Zierl said.

Germany expects to hand the man over to Italy in two to three weeks, Zierl said.

German prosecutors said Ben Henin was in contact with four suspected militants arrested in Frankfurt in December who allegedly planned an attack in Strasbourg, France, during New Year’s celebrations.

Italian prosecutors said Ben Henin and the two others arrested Wednesday in Italy had planned to give false passports to young militants passing through Italy to be trained in Afghan camps.

According to wiretaps dating to March, prosecutors said the suspects spoke frequently of bin Laden ``as a model to imitate.″

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