Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the Al Qaeda cells which carried out the 9/11 attacks, had once attempted to smuggle artefacts out of Afghanistan to raise money, a report revealed Saturday.
Atta, believed to have been at the controls of the first plane that slammed into the World Trade Center, had approached a German art historian with enquiries about the antiquities market, said a report published in Der Spiegel news magazine.
The Al Qaeda terrorist, who headed the 9/11 terrorist cell from his modest apartment in the harbour district of Hamburg, called on an art expert at Goettingen University in 2000 or early 2001.
He told the professor of art history that he had access to "ancient artefacts of considerable value".
Atta wanted to know where to sell antiquities, the art historian was quoted as saying.
He mentioned in passing that he needed money to purchase an aircraft, the magazine reported, citing German BKA federal investigators.
The professor suggested him to contact a reputable auction house such as Sotheby's and never heard from him again.
Atta arrived back in Germany in early 2000 from an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, where he is believed to have received instructions from Osama bin Laden to attack strategic targets in America.