Accused 9/11 plotter: I did not know hijackers
17 May 2005, MADRID — One of three al-Qaeda suspects accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks on the United States told a Spanish court he did not know one of the suspected hijackers and insisted he was innocent.
17 May 2005
MADRID — One of three al-Qaeda suspects accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks on the United States told a Spanish court he did not know one of the suspected hijackers and insisted he was innocent.
Moroccan Driss Chebli is one of 24 people suspected of links to al-Qaeda appearing in Madrid in the largest trial of suspected members of the extremist group to be held in Europe and one of three believed linked to 9/11.
Chebli denied knowing Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian identified as the ringleader of the suicide pilots who flew the aircraft they had hijacked into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon.
"I've never seen him before," Chebli said when asked about Atta.
Chebli is accused of helping to prepare, alongside "Abu Dahdah", the suspected head of a Spanish-based Al-Qaeda cell, a meeting in the northern Spanish city of Tarragona in July 2001 which Atta allegedly attended.
According to public prosecutor Pedro Rubira the meeting "probably determined the date of the attacks on the United States."
Chebli said he was not in Tarragona at the time and did not know "Abu Dahdah," real name Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, even if they had in fact met on one occasion.
"I met him in September 2001 and anyway I never had any kind of relationship with him - I just know him by sight," said Chebli.
"I didn't know him so it's impossible I could have been with him in Tarragona."
Chebli faces a 62,000-year sentence if found guilty of involvement in preparing the 9/11 attacks.
Aside from Chebli, Yarkas and Ghassub Al Abrash Ghaylun also face the same charges.
A further 21 people face lesser sentences for alleged links with a terror
They include television reporter Tayssir Alluni of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television network, who in testimony Monday said he was innocent.
He told the court how he secured a world exclusive interview with al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden weeks after 9/11.
The prosecution maintains Alluni received thousands of dollars to pass on to al-Qaeda operatives from Yarkas.
The Madrid trial is to last until the end of June. All those accused deny the charges.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news