Madrid 'bomber' denies links to top September 11 suspect
1 June 2005, MADRID — A Moroccan alleged to be one of the leading bombers in the Madrid train blasts told a court he was not an extremist and barely knew a top 9/11 suspect.
1 June 2005
MADRID — A Moroccan alleged to be one of the leading bombers in the Madrid train blasts told a court he was not an extremist and barely knew a top 9/11 suspect.
"My only 'war' was to help my father bring up seven kids and a wife in Morocco on EUR 150 a month," Jamal Zougam told the trial of 24 al-Qaeda suspects.
Zougam appeared for about 15 minutes as a witness called to shed light into the activities of the 24, three of whom are accused of links to the 9/11 suicide plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
The high court in Madrid has already heard from the accused themselves, who include Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah, who allegedly headed the group's Spanish cell that was dismantled in the aftermath of the US attacks.
Zougam, 32, said he hardly knew Yarkas and their paths crossed only when they
shopped in the Madrid district of Lavapies, an area with a large Arab population.
Prosecutors say Zougam and Yarkas spoke by telephone on September 5 2001,
less than a week before the US attacks, the allegation being they were in on the plot.
"I don't remember that call," Zougam, adding that while he had attended a Madrid mosque he had not been aware of Islamic extremist videos circulating on conflicts in
countries such as Bosnia, Afghanistan and Dagestan.
"I was just doing what work I could get. I was a trader until March (2004)," said Zougam, referring to the day of his arrest.
Under Spanish law the suspects in the Madrid bombings case cannot be charged until legal investigations have concluded.
Yarkas meanwhile has already denied making contact with Egyptian Mohammed
Atta, the leader of the 9/11 suicide bombers who is alleged to have attended a meeting in July 2001 in Tarragona in northeast Spain.
Yarkas, who told the court a month ago that he assumed Zougam was not a
practising Muslim as he had seen him "going round with girls", faces 62,512
years in jail for alleged involvement in those attacks and belonging to a terrorist group.
Another of the trio allegedly linked to the US attacks, Syrian Ghassoub Al
Abrash Ghayloun, was last week told he could go free if he came up with EUR 50,000.
Moroccan Driss Chebli remains along with Yarkas suspected of being involved with preparations for 9/11, which he denies.
Investigators have sifted through some 100,000 pages of documents for the largest trial of al-Qaeda suspects in Europe to date.
The Madrid trial began on 22 April and is due to last until the end of June.
Earlier on Wednesday, five of the suspects were released on bail.
Algerian Sid Ahmed Boudjella, Syrians Mohamed Khair Al Saqqa and Assam Dalati and Moroccans Waheed Koshaji Kelani and Ahmad Koshaji Kelani were all judged not to be at risk of fleeing the country.
Boudjella was released without bail, with the remaining four bailed for between EUR 20,000-150,000.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news