Bungled spy operation’lost terror ringleader’
17 May 2004
MADRID – Police watched the so-called mastermind behind the 11 March terrorist atrocity for months then lost track of him a few days before the attacks, it was revealed Monday.
The Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo claimed that Serhane Ben Abdemajid Farkhet, nicknamed ‘The Tunisian’, was followed for months.
Police agents watched Abdemajid until the beginning of February but then lost track of him.
The terrorist was one of the seven Islamic extremists who blew themselves up in a flat in the Madrid suburb of Leganes on 3 April.
A police officer from an elite unit was killed and four others seriously injured in the explosion.
Abdemajid was said to be one of the leaders of the terrorist group responsible for the 11 March bombings in which 192 people died and more than 1,500 were injured.
Sixteen people are still in hospital with serious injuries.
The revelations about the allegedly bungled police surveillance operation prompted former Interior Minister Angel Acebes to deny Monday he knew Abdemajid was even being watched.
“I did not know about this,” Acebes told a press conference Monday.
“I didn’t have any information and nobody gave me any information of this type.”
He also said that after the terrorist attacks he gave out as much information as possible.
But, Acebes said, in his judgement, he should not interfere any more in the investigation by commenting on the matter.
In the wake of the attacks, Acebes was heavily criticised for repeatedly claiming ETA was responsible for the bomb attacks.
Many believed Islamic terrorists were in fact the culprits and Acebes’ move was an attempt to distract criticism from the government’s support for the Iraq invasion.
It is widely believed to have cost the former ruling conservative government the general election on 14 March.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news