Iraqi questioned in Germany over money transfer at trial over alleged plot to kill former premier STUTTGART, Germany

An Iraqi man denied knowingly raising money for an Islamic militant group as he testified Tuesday at the trial of three suspects in an alleged plot to kill former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Ata Abdoulaziz Rashid, Mazen Ali Hussein and Rafik Mohamad Yousef face charges of conspiracy and membership in a foreign terrorist organization.

Prosecutors also are trying to prove charges that the suspects helped to raise funds and organize recruits for Ansar al-Islam _ a group linked to al-Qaida and a string of bloody attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq.

A judge and prosecutors quizzed Omar Ismael, an unemployed 36-year-old Iraqi, about euro360 (US$455) that he allegedly gave to Rashid and in part was sent to the militant group in Iraq.

Confronted with wiretaps from late 2003, Ismael acknowledged only that Rashid had asked him for "credit."

He also disputed earlier testimony in which prosecutors say he confirmed Rashid asked him to raise money for Ansar al-Islam.

"I didn't say it was for Ansar al-Islam," he told the court. Ismael, a longtime German resident, was convicted and jailed last year for offenses that included breaking German export laws by making the payment through Rashid, and is to be deported July 28.

The three defendants were arrested in pre-dawn raids on Dec. 3, 2004.

According to the indictment, Yousef phoned the other two, who are described as more senior members of the group, on Dec. 2 to ask for approval for an attempt to kill Allawi during his appearance at a business forum in Berlin. Hussein allegedly passed on approval from Rashid and made a promise of financial help.

The event was canceled after the arrests.

At Tuesday's session, the court also started hearing testimony on Ansar al-Islam from Amin Lokman Mohamed, an Iraqi jailed in Germany for allegedly aiding the group, but his initial comments did not touch on the defendants.