9/11 hijacker attempted to sell Afghan loot
Mohamed Atta offered artefacts to German archaeologist
By Cristina Ruiz. News, Issue 210, February 2010
Published online: 27 January 2010
LONDON. The German secret service has testimony that relates to 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta’s attempted sale in Germany of looted Afghan artefacts, according to Giuseppe Proietti, secretary general of Italy’s ministry of culture. Proietti has made repeated references to this testimony in public speeches delivered since 2005. His remarks have not been widely reported but are mentioned in the autumn issue of the Journal of Art Crime.
According to Proietti, in 1999 Atta contacted an archaeologist at the German university of Göttingen with an offer to sell Afghan artefacts. An unidentified archaeologist, who declined the offer, told the German secret service that Atta had said he needed the money to pay for flying lessons in the US.
Atta moved to Germany from his native Cairo in 1992 to study at the Hamburg University of Technology. It was there that he became increasingly radicalised, eventually forming the so-called Hamburg Cell of terrorists who organised the 2001 attacks on the US.
Atta spent several months in Afghanistan in late 1999 when he met Osama bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda leaders and trained to be a terrorist; it is possible that he also made arrangements to sell looted antiquities in Germany.
In 2000 he started learning to fly in Florida. Atta was the hijacker in control of American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to strike the World Trade Center.
The market for Afghan antiquities is so strong that the government has issued a list of the most significant missing museum pieces for border police.
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