Madrid bombers 'planned more terrorist attacks'
8 May 2007, MADRID - Kamal Ahbar, arrested in Spain for recruiting "jihadists" to go to Iraq, told a court the organizers of the March 2004 bombings planned more terrorist attacks.
8 May 2007
MADRID - Kamal Ahbar, arrested in Spain for recruiting "jihadists" to go to Iraq, told a court the organizers of the March 2004 bombings planned more terrorist attacks.
"They never did carry them out, although they had 200 kilos of explosives," the Algerian citizen said at the trial of 29 mainly Middle Eastern men for the massacre of March 11, 2004, when explosions on Madrid commuter trains left 191 dead and more than 1,800 wounded.
Ahbar said that the train attacks were perpetrated by seven men who committed suicide at a residence in the Madrid suburb of Leganes three weeks after March 11 when they found themselves surrounded by police.
He also blamed a certain Elias El Harruchi, Mohammed Afalah and Daboud Ouhnane, who fled after the attacks and who, according to various accounts, might have died in Iraq.
On the other hand, Ahbar exonerated Abdelmajik Bouchar, who supposedly escaped the police cordon in Leganes and who is among those being tried by the National Court.
With regard to other possible strikes the terrorists were preparing, Ahbar mentioned a number of separate attacks against the Civil Guard Academy in the southern city of Jaen that could not be carried out due to "problems with the dates," and against the seat of the National Court.
He said that Abu Jaber, imam of a mosque in the eastern city of Valencia and a police informant, met with Ouhnane in October 2004 and proposed an attack against the National Court because there were 200 kilos of explosives left over from the March 11 massacre.
Ouhnane, the witness said, expressed his disagreement with committing "any attack in Europe."
From that moment, the witness said, the police began arresting people and it was rumored that the imam might be a police spy.
Ahbar said that the terrorists were acting on the orders of Abu Jaber and of Sawfan Sabagh - an Algerian living in Valencia where he ran a roast-chicken establishment - and it was they who announced that they had to attack before March 11, 2004 on direct orders from Iraq.
The witness admitted that all the information that he had about the attacks came from Afalah, supposedly killed in Iraq in 2005, from Ouhnane, who he believed also died in that Arab nation, as well as from news stories and from his contacts in Iraq.
Nonetheless, he admitted when questioned by the prosecution that part of the information he offered Monday he found out "this weekend" in the Alcala Meco jail, where the March 11 defendants Basel Ghalyoun, Mohammed Larbi Ben Sellam, Fouad El Morabit and Rashid Aglif were also being held.
Monday's other witness was a member of the Italian police's DIGOS counter-terrorism unit who confirmed that chief defendant Rabei Osman El Sayed was the mastermind of the March 11 attack.
The man known as "Mohammed The Egyptian" purportedly made the admission in a telephone conversation intercepted by Italian authorities.
According to the transcripts, Osman said: "The attack in Madrid was my project and those who died martyrs are my dearest friends."
"The Egyptian" was arrested in Milan on June 7, 2004.
Osman was being investigated in Italy for allegedly recruiting Muslims to go to Iraq; Italian security forces hastened his arrest due to suspicion that that he intended to leave the country and was planning new attacks in Europe prior to the June 13, 2004, European Parliament elections.
He was convicted in Italy on terrorism charges on Nov. 6, 2006 - having been sent back there from Spain in April 2005 to face trial - and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
According to the judges' decision in that case, Osman was "an influential member of Al Qaeda and (a member of) the Islamic cell accused of the Madrid tragedy."
Spanish prosecutors have asked that, if convicted of the 191 murder counts and 1,825 counts of attempted murder corresponding to those wounded in the bombings, Osman be sentenced to nearly 39,000 years in jail. According to Spanish law, however, the maximum sentence that he can receive is 40 years.
Osman, the first of the defendants to testify in the current trial, denied any role in the bombings and denounced violence as contrary to the tenets of Islam. EFE
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news