Spanish Al-Qaeda suspects go on trial for 9/11 attacks
22 April 2005, MADRID- Twenty-four people suspected of belonging to a Spanish unit of Al-Qaeda went on trial in Madrid accused of helping to prepare the devastating 9/11 attacks in the United States.
22 April 2005
MADRID- Twenty-four people suspected of belonging to a Spanish unit of Al-Qaeda went on trial in Madrid accused of helping to prepare the devastating 9/11 attacks in the United States.
At least 100 police, helicopters, planes and a jamming device to stop any bomb attacks were employed in a complex security operation.
The Spanish public prosecutor is calling for a total of 60,000 years in jail for three of the accused, in a trial which is expected to last at least two months, according to a judicial source.
The suspected chief of the Spanish Al-Qaeda cell, the Syrian Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias 'Abu Dahdah', along with Driss Chebli, allegedly organised a meeting in July 2001 in Tarragona on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, during which the details of the attacks were finalised.
In the same city, the alleged leader of the gang which carried out the attacks, Mohamed
Atta, was reported to have held a meeting with a member of the Al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, Ramzi Bin Shibh, and Algerian Mohamed Belfatmi, linked to
those who carried out the 9/11 attacks.
Yarkas's Madrid telephone number was found at the home of a Hamburg Al-Qaeda member involved in the US attacks and also that of an al-Qaeda member in Afghanistan.
He is accused of establishing in Spain, from 1995, an indoctrination and recruitment unit for young Islamic militants, who were allegedly sent for training in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia and Indonesia.
Yarkas denies the charges, describing himself as a businessman.
A third member of the Spanish al-Qaeda cell, Ghassub Al Abrash Ghaylun, filmed the World Trade Center towers during a visit to the US and allegedly gave the tapes to an al-Qaeda operative.
The attacks, using hijacked planes, killed some 2,500 people. Two planes destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, a third badly damaged the Pentagon building in Washington and a fourth crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
The 60,000 year jail-term being called for corresponds to 25 years for each of the victims of the attacks, for each of the three main accused.
The 24 people due to appear in court are among a group of 41 indicted by the Spanish anti-terrorist judge Baltasar Garzon.
Among the others are the head of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden.
Under Spanish law however, he and other absent defendants cannot be tried in absentia.
One of the accused who will be in court is Tayssir Alluni, a Spanish resident who is a controversial journalist of the Qatari Arabic language television channel Al-Jazeera.
Alluni, who made headlines when he obtained an interview with Bin Laden after the US attacks, is accused of being an Al-Qaeda member and of having had "close links for many years" with the suspected Spanish al-Qaeda cell leader Yarkas.
Yarkas is believed to have asked Alluni to give money to Al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan when he was sent there to report by his employers at Al Jazeera.
The alleged sums include EUR 3,054 said to have been given in January 2000 to Mohamed Bahia, a suspected "messenger" between the Afghanistan camps, Chechnya and Europe.
Alluni denies the allegations and has questioned the impartiality of the Spanish judiciary.
"According to information I have received, it is the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which asked (Spanish authorities) to make inquiries about me," Alluni said from his home in Granada, where he has been under surveillance by Spanish authorities, since his release from prison on 14 March.
The high-security trial is due to open in a specially prepared building in a convention centre in the Spanish capital.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news