30 June 2004
LONDON — British police said Wednesday they had detained a Moroccan national reportedly linked to both the September 11 attacks in the United States and the Madrid train bombings.
The Home Office said Farid Hilali, 35, faced possible extradition to Spain, where he is reportedly under suspicion of links to the 9/11 attacks in the US and the Madrid train bombings on 11 March this year.
After his arrest on Monday, Hilali was taken directly to Bow Street Magistrates Court in central London and told he would be kept in custody before returning to court on 5 July, Scotland Yard said.
He appeared “on a European arrest warrant alleging that he committed terrorist offences,” said a Scotland Yard spokeswoman told.
Hilali, also known as “Shakur”, is believed to have telephoned the alleged head of an al-Qaeda cell in Madrid shortly before the Twin Towers and Pentagon attacks in 2001, according to The Times newspaper.
In a tapped call on August 27, 2001, Hilali allegedly said that he “had entered into the field of aviation” and “cut the throat of the eagle”.
Hilali is said to have promised that he would have something to show the unnamed Spanish-based terrorist leader in about a month, The Times said.
The calls are reported to have been made from the New Cross or Peckham areas of southeast London.
The name “Shakur” appeared alongside those of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and 33 others on an indictment in Spain last September.
The suspects are alleged to have used the country as a base to plot September 11.
Spanish judge Baltazar Garzon said last autumn that he had been unable to establish the identity of “Shakur”, according to the Times.
But in April he made a new order saying that police had identified him as Hilali and calling for his extradition.
Garzon alleges that the September 11 plot was finalised in 2001 at a meeting between Mohamed Atta, the suspected leader of the attacks, and Ramzi Binalshibh, a suspected al-Qaeda leader.
One suspect of the train bombings, which killed 192 people, has been charged with helping to arrange that meeting, The Times said.
Police sources said that Hilali was also arrested last September.
He was not charged but was discovered to be an illegal entrant and detained at London’s Belmarsh prison.
European arrest warrants, designed to improve cross-border cooperation,came into force in Britain on January 1.
Under the warrants the so-called “fast-track” extradition procedures should take three months.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news