'Al-Qaeda chief' says he just drank tea with terrorists

22nd April 2005, Comments 0 comments

25 April 2005, MADRID-The alleged leader of Al-Qaeda in Spain smiled and seemed at ease as he was cross-examined on the second day of a mass trial of alleged Islamic terrorists.

25 April 2005

MADRID-The alleged leader of Al-Qaeda in Spain smiled and seemed at ease as he was cross-examined on the second day of a mass trial of alleged Islamic terrorists.

Syrian-born Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as 'Abu Dahdah' only lost his composure when photographic evidence was prsented to the court.

He is accused of organising a meeting where plans for the 9/11 attacks in the US were finalised and running an Al-Qaeda recruitment network since 1995.

Abu Dahdah faces 60,000 years in jail if found guilty - 25 years for each murder on 9/11 to which he was allegedly linked.
"I can't remember", "I don't know", "I have a very poor memory," the well-groomed 41-year-old, who describes himself as a businessman, told the court as a string of questions were put to him.

But when asked to explain the circumstances under which he was photographed
firing a pistol, he was less sure of himself.

Yarkas offered to tell the Judge the name of the friend he said had lent him the gun "but only to you, not publicly with all the journalists," he stipulated.

"In Spain trials are public, if you don't want to give the name that's your right," the judge told him. Yarkas then declined to publicly reveal the name.

The trial is the first to be shown live on satellite television in Spain, and judge Javier Gomez Bermudez asked the cameraman at one point to get better close ups on exhibits, while the faces of the accused were also subject to close scrutiny.

Yarkas was unfailingly polite though sometimes combative when, in impeccable Spanish, he put the judge right on certain names or points of Muslim etiquette.

He admitted having met two high-ranking Al-Qaeda officials whom he allegedly succeeded in 1995 after they left for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to the indictment one of them, Zein Al-Abidine Mohamed Hassan, alias 'Sheikh Salah', welcomed recruits for 'holy war' sent out to Pakistan from Spain by Yarkas.

The other, Mustafa Setmarian, allegedly ran Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.

Yarkas admitted "having tea together after leaving the mosque" in Madrid but denied any further knowledge of them and all charges put to him.

Prosecutors plan to demand that Yarkas and two others suspected of links to the 9/11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people, each be sentenced to more than 60,000 years in prison -- 25 years for each life lost.

Earlier, Luis Jose Galan, the only Spanish-born man amongst the 24 accused, being brought to the dock. He denied having been sent to a training camp in Indonesia by Abu Dahdah along with another man referred to as Parlin in July 2001.

"Neither Abu Dahdah nor Parlin ever spoke to me about training, grenades or
bombs. If they had I would have distanced myself from them," said the 39-year-old convert to Islam and former heroin addict.

He seemed nervous, wiped his brow and asked for water as he explained his past as a radical left-winger and explained how he had gone to Indonesia with a view to moving there after losing his job with a Spanish transport company.

Exhibits included photos of him at Madrid marches in support of Palestinians and Chechens.

He said he had never been to any training camp and denounced all forms of

"Not only do I condemn the deaths of 3,000 people but even one death in New
York, Gaza or Fallujah. He who dares take a life kills all humanity. I don't care whether his name is Bin Laden, Bush, Sharon or Putin," he said.

The trial is expected to last two moths in a specially-built courtroom in a park on the outskirts of Madrid, where the defendants appear inside a bullet-proof glass cubicle.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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