UK hands over September 11 plot suspect to Madrid
Judge believes Moroccan Farid Hilali made incriminating calls before attack11 February 2008
MADRID - The United Kingdom on Friday handed over to Spain a Moroccan man accused of helping plan the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States.
Farid Hilali, 39, is wanted by the Spanish High Court for alleged involvement with a Spanish Al Qaeda cell that prosecutors have linked to the massacre in New York and Washington. Hilali, who was arrested by British police in 2004 under a warrant issued by Spanish authorities, allegedly called Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, the leader of the Spanish Al Qaeda cell, two weeks before the 2001 attacks.
In recordings of the conversation obtained by Spanish police, Hilali is heard saying "we have gone into the field of aviation" and that the "bird has had its throat cut," comments that Spanish High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón has interpreted as referring to the then imminent attacks.
Hilali's extradition follows more than three years of appeals against his arrest and Spain's deportation request. Britain's High Court ruled in his favour, declaring his arrest arbitrary and based on circumstantial evidence, but that decision was overturned on 30 January by the House of Lords. Hilali's lawyers have since taken the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Barakat is currently serving a 12-year sentence in Spain for membership of a terrorist organisation although he has been cleared of involvement in the 11 September attack.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / ANGELES ESPINOSA 2008]
Subject: Spanish news