August 26, 2005

Hamburg police draw blank in terrorist search

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - German police published grainy
pictures of three possible terrorist suspects on Friday but
said they had so far failed to locate them despite a huge
manhunt in the northern port city of Hamburg.

More than 1,000 police were deployed overnight in Germany's
second city to search for three men who were overheard at a bus
stop by an Arabic-speaking witness, speaking of becoming
"heroes before Allah." One was carrying a backpack.

Fuzzy pictures of the three men, captured by a surveillance
camera aboard a crowded bus, were posted on the Internet, shown
on television and splashed across newspaper front pages.

A police spokeswoman said overnight roadblocks around the
city had now been lifted but the investigation to trace the
three men was continuing, with the help of clues from the

"We have 25 clues so far but there is no hot lead," she
said, adding no arrests had been made.

The spokeswoman said security authorities had judged the
large-scale public manhunt to be justified and it was too early
to speak of a false alarm.

At a Thursday evening news conference, Hamburg state
interior minister Udo Nagel said: "We don't know at this point
whether there is something to the tip or not." He added there
were no concrete clues pointing to an imminent attack.

The alert came less than a week after a Hamburg court
sentenced a Moroccan man, Mounir El Motassadeq, to seven years
in jail for belonging to the group of Hamburg-based Arab
students who led the September 11 attacks on the United States.

He was friends with three of the suicide pilots who carried
out the 2001 attacks, including Mohamed Atta, the man who
rammed the first of four hijacked planes into the World Trade