Prosecutor aims to expose network of jihadists living quiet lives while recruiting footsoldiers for the 9/11 attack and other attacks. From the UK Times Online, :
EUROPE’S biggest trial of al-Qaeda suspects allegedly linked to the attacks of September 11, 2001, opened yesterday in a specially built court in Madrid.
No one has been successfully prosecuted for a direct role in the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. If convicted, Eddin Barakat Yarkas, the Syrian-born alleged ringleader of a Spanish cell, faces some 60,000 years in jail – 25 for each person killed.
Mr Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, is said to have helped to fund the operation and set up a meeting at a Spanish resort attended by Mohammed Atta, the presumed leader of the hijackers, and couriers sent by Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s leader, to finalise plans for the US attacks….
All but one defendant, Tayssir Alluni, sat behind bullet-proof glass. Mr Alluni, a journalist with al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based cable news channel, who interviewed Mr bin Laden after the attacks, is accused of being a member of the terrorist network.
The prosecution is expected to accuse some of the key figures of using trips to Britain to smuggle money to al-Qaeda agents across Europe. Mr Yarkas, 41, is alleged to have visited Britain more than 20 times, often bringing young recruits to meet leading militants, including Abu Qatada, the London-based radical cleric.
The alleged recruits included some of the men accused of planning and taking part in last year’s bombing of four trains in Madrid. Baltasar GarzÃ³n, the prosecuting magistrate, is expected to give details of some of Mr Yarkas’s visits, including one where he is alleged to have handed over $11,000 (Â£5,750) to Abu Qatada, who the Spanish judge described as “al-Qaeda’s spiritual ambassador in the EU”….
Mr Yarkas is also said to have stayed at mosques and at the homes of other terrorist suspects, including that of Zacharias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker who pleaded guilty in an American court yesterday. Also in court in Madrid yesterday was Ghassub al Abrash Ghaylun, who is said to have taken detailed films of the twin towers and the Pentagon.
The tapes were then allegedly passed on to “operative members of al-Qaeda and would become the preliminary information on the attacks against the twin towers”, the indictment said…
Prosecutors will attempt to prove that some of the accused are linked to the September 11 attacks and the Madrid train bombings. The trial is expected to last for two months and was adjourned until Monday.
As it was getting under way yesterday, another al-Qaeda suspect was being extradited from Switzerland to Spain. Mohamed Achraf’s group of
Spanish-based extremists is suspected of plotting to bomb the National Court in Madrid.