Islamist accused of Spanish-US military base plot
30 October 2006, MADRID — Six Algerian men, one of whom is charged with a failed plot to attack a U.S.-Spanish military base in southern Spain, went on trial.
30 October 2006
MADRID — Six Algerian men, one of whom is charged with a failed plot to attack a U.S.-Spanish military base in southern Spain, went on trial.
All are charged with belonging to an Islamic terrorist group, possession of explosives and document forgery.
The trial, at the National Court in central Madrid, was held amid high security.
The alleged leader of the cell, Mohamed Tahraoui, 24, from Algeria, was the first to testify.
Tahraoui is the only one of the six charged in the alleged plot on the military base, Rota, near the Strait of Gibraltar.
At any given time, about 2,000 U.S. troops are stationed at Rota, a logistics base for the U.S. Sixth Fleet and Spain's principal naval base, home to its lone aircraft carrier.
The defendants were among 16 suspected Islamic extremists arrested in January 2003 near Barcelona.
All were released after police concluded they did not have bomb-making material, but cleaning detergent.
But after a further investigation -- including an FBI analysis that the seized materials could be made into "homemade napalm" -- six of the 16 were re-arrested in 2004 and indicted.
The six are not charged with the Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,700.
The 29 defendants under indictment in that case are due to be tried early next year.
But the alleged leader of the six on trial Monday, Tahraoui, had evidence in his home near Barcelona of a cell phone, and also of sketches of other cell phones, which appeared similar to cell phones used in the Madrid train bombings and in the al Qaeda attack in Bali in 2002 that killed 200 people, it was claimed.
The suspects belong to the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, which is linked to al Qaeda and is a spin off of the main militant Islamic opposition group in Algeria.
The other defendants are Smail Boudjelthi, 32; Ali Kaouka, 32; Mohamed Nebbar, 36; Souhil Kaouka, 33, and Mohamed Amine Benaoura, 28.
In their hearings in 2004, the first four said they are innocent.
The trial continues.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news