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German terror trial convicts four for plotting attacks on US targets

A German terror trial that convicted four Muslims of planning an attack on US targets inside Germany shows the country is taking terrorism more seriously.

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German terror trial: Fritz Gelowicz, one of four Islamist militants convicted of plotting to bomb US targets, appears in a courtroom in Duesseldorf, Germany, Thursday.

Frank Augstein/REUTERS

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The conviction of four Muslim men here for plotting to bomb German-based American targets is the latest evidence of the strides that Germany's police and intelligence services have made since 9/11.

Before the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, Germany was not particularly concerned about possible militant Islamist attacks on its soil. But in the aftermath of the attack it was found that a number of the hijackers had helped plan the 9/11 attack while living in Hamburg. The so-called Hamburg Cell was led by Mohammed Atta, one of the attacks key organizers.

In the aftermath of that discovery, German intelligence began to work closely with the US on the issue. German troops have participated in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan since its inception

The four men convicted on Thursday are known here collectively as the "Sauerland cell," a reference to the area of western Germany where they were captured. German converts to Islam Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Martin Schneider each received 12 years in prison; Turkish citizen Adem Yilmaz was sentenced to 11 years; and Atilla Selek, a German born to Turkish parents, was sentenced to five years in prison.

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