Madrid ‘bomber’ not arrested before attacks
17 April 2007, MADRID – The alleged ringleader of the Madrid train bombings was stopped by police with knives and stolen goods but later released months before the attacks, a court heard.
17 April 2007
MADRID – The alleged ringleader of the Madrid train bombings was stopped by police with knives and stolen goods but later released months before the attacks, a court heard.
The late Jamal "The Chinaman" Ahmidan ,was stopped three months before the massacre, but police declined to arrest him despite finding the knives and stolen merchandise in his car.
Police who arrested Ahmidan told the trial of 29 people accused of playing various roles in the attacks on 11 March, 2004, that left 191 dead and more than 1,800 injured.
The officers, who belong to the Civil Guard, a national militarized police force, spoke from behind a screen and their names were withheld during hearings on Monday.
They described what happened in the early hours of 5 December, 2003, when they came across Ahmidan on the Nacional I expressway linking the capital with northern Spain.
The Chinaman was among the seven conspirators who blew themselves up just weeks after the bombings as police surrounded their apartment building in the Madrid suburb of Leganes.
It now appears that at the time of his encounter with the Civil Guard officers, Ahmidan was returning from the Asturias region after sealing a deal to obtain the explosives used in the commuter-train bombings.
The officers came upon Ahmidan less than an hour north of Madrid as he was pushing his broken-down BMW along the side of the highway.
The officers said they asked for his identification and Ahmidan, who was "very nervous," showed them fake Belgian documents in the name of Youssef Ben Salah.
One of the officers said he asked Ahmidan if he had driven through the area earlier in the same because he thought he had pulled him over hours before.
"In a very smart way he told me no," the witness said, adding that Ahmidan blurted out "racists, you will pay for this."
The officer said Ahmidan, who had a wad of 50-euro bills with his identification, told the Civil Guards that he was returning from visiting his sister in Bilbao, but he was unable to give an address for the woman.
The officers searched Ahmidan's vehicle and found knives and blades, what one of the officers described as a "homemade mace," a suitcase with clothing that still had the price tags attached and security tags from big department stores, which made the Civil Guards suspect that it was stolen merchandise.
The officers gave Ahmidan a ticket for carrying the weapons and, in response to a question about whether they thought of arresting him, said they believed there was insufficient evidence and "at those hours it was not possible" because a series of investigations would have to be conducted.
A tow truck took Ahmidan and his vehicle to Madrid the next day.
The Civil Guard officers recognized Ahmidan when his photo was published in the press after the 3 April, 2004, explosion that killed him and his associates, and they notified their superiors.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news