MAINZ, Germany — The police arrested two men here on Sunday who are suspected of being members of al-Qaida, saying they were planning suicide bombings in Iraq.
The arrests occurred a month before President Bush is scheduled to visit this southwestern German city, though German authorities did not cite any link between the events.
They said the suspects also had tried to buy a small amount of enriched uranium from a contact in Luxembourg for undisclosed purposes.
One of the men, whom the authorities identified as Ibrahim Mohamed K., a 29-year-old Iraqi who lives here, is suspected of having recruited suicide bombers in Germany, and has had contacts with senior al-Qaida leaders, a German prosecutor, Kay Nehm, said Sunday at a news conference in Karlsruhe. By German custom, the surnames of suspects in criminal cases are not disclosed.
Nehm said the Iraqi man had trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and spent a year there afterward fighting U.S. troops.
While in Afghanistan the suspect had contact with Osama bin Laden and Ramzi Binalshibh, who acted as a link between bin Laden and the men in Hamburg who are believed to have carried out the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, Nehm said.
"This convinced him not to seek the original aspiration of martyrdom as a suicide attacker but rather to recruit suicide attackers in Europe," the German prosecutors said in a statement.
Back in Germany, Ibrahim Mohamed K. found a willing recruit in Yasser Abu S., 31, a Libyan-born Palestinian who lived nearby in Bonn, Nehm said. Last fall, the men concocted a plan to finance a suicide bombing in Iraq by purchasing life insurance policies worth more than $1 million with the wife of Yasser Abu S. as the beneficiary. They then planned to fake his death in a car wreck in Egypt. From there, he was to travel to Iraq.
The two men were arrested Sunday, after raids on four houses in Mainz and Bonn. They are to be charged with belonging to a foreign terrorist organization. Nehm said there was no evidence that they planned attacks in Germany.