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Spain asks US for information on Al-Qaeda leader

MADRID – Spain’s top anti-terrorism judge has asked five nations, including the United States, for leads on the whereabouts of a suspected Al-Qaeda leader reportedly held in a secret US jail, a court official said Monday.

Judge Baltasar Garzon wants to extradite Syrian-born Spaniard Mustafa Setmarian, accused of involvement in the attacks of 11 September 2001 and planning the 2004 Madrid train bombings, to Spain, the court official said.

Setmarian was indicted in 2003 by Garzon and is wanted on a Spanish arrest warrant. Garzon accused Setmarian of helping to organise one of the first Al-Qaeda-type cells in Spain in the mid-1990s.

Garzon asked for information regarding his whereabouts from Afghanistan, Britain, Pakistan and Syria as well as from Spanish police and Interpol, in addition to the United States, the official said.

Setmarian was captured in Pakistan at the end of 2005. He is being held at a secret prison operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency, newspaper El Pais has reported, citing Pakistani and European security service officials.

Amnesty International has reported Setmarian’s disappearance.

The human rights organisation says dozens of Islamic radicals captured in Pakistan are held in clandestine jails operated by the United States and other countries.

Before his detention, the red-haired Setmarian spent time in London, where he was the director of an Islamic extremist magazine, Al Ansar, and has also been in direct contact with Osama bin Laden. He also spent time in Afghanistan in terrorist training camps, according to Spanish court documents.

He is married to Elena Moreno, a Spanish woman who said she believes her husband is being held in a secret CIA jail.

A Spanish court in October 2007 convicted 21 of the 28 defendants, mostly from north Africa, who stood trial in connection with the 2004 Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people.

They were found guilty on charges ranging from weapons possession to mass murder. In 2008, Spain’s Supreme Court acquitted four of the 21 on appeal.

AFP / Expatica