'9/11 ringleader was in Spain before US attacks'

2nd June 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 June 2005, MADRID — Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the pilots who flew hijacked aircraft into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, was spotted in Spain weeks beforehand, a Spanish court heard.

2 June 2005

MADRID — Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the pilots who flew hijacked aircraft into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, was spotted in Spain weeks beforehand, a Spanish court heard.

Two car hire staff and a Madrid hotel worker told the high court investigating the alleged links of 24 suspects to al-Qaeda that they remembered Atta being in Madrid in July 2001.

They later recognised his face from television coverage following the attacks.

According to public prosecutor Pedro Rubira two of those on trial in the Spanish capital, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh and Mohamed Belfatmi, met Atta in the northern Spanish city of Tarragona on 16 July to plan the attacks on the US.

Rubira said that following a trip on 9 July to Madrid, Atta again visited the capital on 5 September, just six days before the attacks.

Jose Luis Garrote, a car hire worker, told the court Atta phoned from Madrid's Barajas airport in July 2001 saying he had made a reservation from the United States for a vehicle.

Garrote, who with a colleague Jaime Fernandez handed the car over to their client, told the court he then recognised Atta's face after seeing it in television coverage of 9/11.

A hotel receptionist also said she remembered Atta staying in the establishment in early July.

The statements in court came as a Moroccan accused of being a lead bomber in last year's Madrid train blasts testified he was not an extremist and barely knew a top Spanish bases suspect in the 9/11 attacks.

Zougam is in custody pending possible charges on the train blasts in Madrid last year, but is not on trial in the al-Qaeda trial.

A trial on the train bombings case is not expected until early next year.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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