Spanish police are trying to trace the movements in Spain of a suspected hijacker of one of the jets that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York last week, a government spokesman said yesterday. Mohammed Atta arrived in Spain in early July and left the country on July 19, and investigators were attempting to piece together his activities in the country during that period, the spokesman for Spain's Interior Ministry said. It has been confirmed that this is the same person believed to have piloted one of the planes, he said. The spokesman confirmed Atta spent a night in a hotel in Salou, a resort near Barcelona, but could not comment on Spanish news reports that he met other Islamic extremists in the hotel. Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia said yesterday the 33-year-old Egyptian met other unknown collaborators later on in Madrid. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation suspects Atta of flying one of the two planes that destroyed the World Trade Center on September 11, leaving thousands dead or missing. Atta and two other suspected hijackers are known to have studied in Hamburg and German police were trying to uncover their activities in Germany. The Interior Ministry spokesman also declined to comment on Spanish reports that Atta travelled around Spain in a rented car in July, possibly to regroup members of the network of Osama bin Laden after the arrest in June of a suspected senior member. Police arrested Mohammed Benshakria in June in the southeastern city of Alicante. Reports at the time said he was suspected of involvement in a plot to bomb the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France. Benshakria was extradited to France in July. Bin Laden, the prime suspect in the attacks, has reportedly denied any role. We are trying to confirm the movements of (Atta) in Spain, the spokesman said.
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