German prosecutors said Thursday that they are investigating how a Moroccan man convicted of helping the Hamburg-based Sept. 11, 2001, suicide pilots was apparently paid some 7,000 euros ($7,960) before he was deported to his homeland last year.
Mounir el Motassadeq was deported in October, shortly before completing his 15-year sentence for membership in a terrorist organization and being an accessory to murder.
An investigation by Hamburg prosecutors centers on an apparent cash payment shortly before his release and deportation of money that had accumulated in his prison account, used in Germany to hold money earned by inmates by working and funds paid in by relatives, among other things.
The money is generally transferred to inmates on their release, but el Motassadeq was on a list of terror suspects whose assets are frozen and aren't allowed to receive any funds. German weekly Der Spiegel first reported on the matter.
Prosecutors' spokeswoman Nana Frombach said they are investigating a suspected violation of Germany's foreign trade and payments act following a complaint by the country's central bank, or Bundesbank, which is supposed to approve any exemptions from the ban on payments to people on the terror list.
Frombach said the investigation is currently directed against persons unknown, because investigators need to clear up who ordered the alleged payment.
El Motassadeq was first arrested in Hamburg in November 2001. Following a legal saga that dragged on for years, he was convicted of membership in a terrorist organization and being an accessory to the murder of the 246 passengers and crew on the four jetliners used in the attacks in the United States in 2001.
El Motassadeq was convicted of being part of the so-called Hamburg cell, which included three of the four Sept. 11 pilots — Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah.