9/11 accused: 'I filmed Twin Towers like tourist'
27 April 2005, MADRID-A defendant accused of helping plot the 9/11 attacks said he had filmed the New York Twin Towers like any other tourist during a visit to New York.
27 April 2005
MADRID-A defendant accused of helping plot the 9/11 attacks said he had filmed the New York Twin Towers like any other tourist during a visit to New York.
"I filmed all the tourist sites I saw. Unfortunately who could imagine this terrible thing would happen," said Syrian-born Ghassub Al Abrash Ghaylun.
Ghaylun, a 39-year-old businessman who settled in Spain in the mid 1980's, explained that he had achieved a "child's dream" when he made a sightseeing visit to the United States in August 1997.
The tour took him to New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
And a copy of the 12 hours of tape he filmed during his US swing was reportedly passed on to Mohamed Bahaiah (alias Abu Khaled), a senior executive of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terror network, in January 1998.
The prosecution claims that Bahaiah, who is based in Turkey but has a Spanish residence permit, was an Al-Qaeda messenger who travelled between camps in Afghanistan and Chechnya and European countries.
It is demanding that Ghaylun be sentenced to 62,509 years in jail for "active complicity with terrorist assassinations" on 9/11, including 25 years for each of the 2,500 victims covered by the charge sheet.
The court screened a 30-minute-long tape of major US landmarks filmed by the accused, including the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building in New York or the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
The original tapes were seized three years ago when Ghaylun was arrested during a search of his home in Spain.
Ghaylun was questioned later as to why he filmed the Twin Towers, which were subsequently brought down by airliners which were hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists who used them as flying bombs.
Looking dapper in a suit with beige tie, Ghaylun came alive when he described with great detail his journey across America: from the neon lights of Las Vegas casinos, to Hollywood, Basketball giant Michael Jordan's restaurant in Chicago and John F. Kennedy airport in New York.
"I had never seen so many planes parked in an airport. I couldn't believe my eyes. I just filmed," he said.
He was much less forthcoming when discussing his ties with the presumed leader of Al-Qaeda's Spanish branch, Syrian-born Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, describing them as a mosque relationship, then a business relationship.
Yarkas, 41, is accused of organising a July 2001 meeting where plans for the 2001 attacks in the United States were finalised, and of running an Al-Qaeda recruitment unit in Spain since 1995.
Yarkas, who describes himself as a businessman, is also accused of having recruited young Islamic militants who were allegedly sent to train and fight in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia and Indonesia.
Authorities also believe he was key in establishing the Islamic extremist networks later blamed for the March 11, 2004 train bombings in Madrid, which killed 191 people and injured almost 2,000.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news