Passport Reveals a Suspected Terrorist's Journey





In 2001, a few days before the Sept. 11 attacks, a German engineering student named Said Bahaji unexpectedly announced to his family he had a job waiting for him at a Pakistani computer company and he flew to Karachi, leaving behind his wife and infant son.

In the aftermath of the attacks, Mr. Bahaji, the Muslim son of a German mother and Moroccan father, was found to have rented and shared an apartment with two suspected World Trade Center hijackers, including Mohammed Atta, the believed ringleader, and a third Arab man who tried to take flying lessons in the United States.

Little had been heard from Mr. Bahaji since then until this week, when a German passport believed to be his was recovered by Pakistani troops in an abandoned militant compound.

Pakistani authorities suspect Mr. Bahaji is one of the al Qeada leaders helping the Taliban fight government forces in the rugged South Waziristan region.

U.S. and German investigators believe he helped the Hamburg based terrorists with logistics like obtaining travel documents and setting up computers.

In a 2002 interview, Mr. Bahaji's aunt, Barbara Arens, said her nephew "might have been tricked into going to Pakistan." Ms. Arens said she was once close to Mr. Bahaji but stopped talking to him when he adopted increasingly fundamentalist views in the late 1990s. "Half of me thinks he's guilty."

Even before Sept. 11, 2001, German authorities thought Mr. Bahaji was up to something. Born in Germany, he spent most of his youth on his father's family's large farming estate in northern Morocco. He returned to Germany in 1996 to attend a technical university in Harburg, a working-class suburb of Hamburg.

At that time, Mr. Bahaji held moderate beliefs, and even had a love affair with a Catholic woman he met in a year-long preparatory program for foreign students, according to close relatives who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. Heartbroken when it ended, he sought solace in Islam and at al-Quds, a Hamburg mosque frequented by extremists, these relatives said.

There he got to know Mamoun Darkazanli, a Syrian merchant who shared a bank account with a man believed to have masterminded the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. Because of his association with Mr. Darkazanli, Mr. Bahaji was watched for a time by German police...


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