The Hamburg trial of Abdelghani Mzoudi, a 31-year-old Moroccan accused of helping the Sept. 11 hijackers, took a strange twist last week when the prosecution produced a surprise witness in a bushy brown wig and glasses. The witness, an Iranian who goes by the alias Hamid Reza Zakeri and who claims to be a former Iranian intelligence operative, testified that in 1997 Mzoudi spent three months at a training camp in Iran learning how to encrypt e-mail messages. Zakeri also said that Ziad Samir Jarrah, one of the Sept. 11 terrorists, received training in hijacking airplanes at an Iranian camp.
But Zakeri was far from an ideal witness for the prosecution. Germany's Federal Intelligence Service (BND) told the court that during interviews Zakeri tended "to weave statements that could be substantiated with those that cannot." The bnd concluded that the value of Zakeri's information was "fairly limited." Even prosecutor Walter Hemberger had trouble with some of Zakeri's testimony, admitting, "There is considerable doubt that Mzoudi was in Iran in 1997." Still, Hemberger insisted other statements by Zakeri "fit a pattern" and could justify a guilty verdict. The court will announce a verdict in the Mzoudi case this week.