A “senior terrorist” claims credit for a great deal of mayhem.
From the TimesOnline (thanks to Sr. Soph):
IN a small windowless cell lit by a single light bulb, Louai al-Sakka sits isolated from the world and fellow inmates for 24 hours a day.
His concrete box is in the bowels of Kandira, a high-security F-type prison 60 miles east of Istanbul, which was built to house Turkey”s most dangerous criminals.
The prison has been criticised by human rights groups such as Amnesty International. The guards control everything, including the cell’s light switch.
Sakka’s only visitor is Osman Karahan, a lawyer who shares his fervent support for militant Islamic jihad.
Since being convicted as an Al-Qaeda bomb plotter last year, Sakka has decided to reveal his alleged role in some of the key plots of recent years, providing a potential insight into the unanswered questions surrounding them. His story is also one of a globetrotting terrorist in an organisation that is truly multinational.
He is an enigma and, despite his involvement in three terrorist outrages involving British citizens, he is virtually unknown in this country.
By his own account he is a senior Al-Qaeda operative who was at the forefront of the insurgency in Iraq, took part in the beheading of Briton Kenneth Bigley and helped train the 9/11 bombers. He has been jailed in connection with the bombing of the British consulate in Istanbul.
Certainly, the intelligence services have shown a keen interest in the 34-year-old Syrian who says he was in Iraq alongside Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the notorious insurgent who was killed last year in a United States air-strike.
But, as with many things in the world of Al-Qaeda, there might be smoke and mirrors. Some experts believe that Sakka could be overstating his importance to the group, possibly to lay a false track for western agencies investigating his terrorist colleagues.
Over the past three weeks The Sunday Times has conducted a series of interviews with Sakka through his lawyer. We were given a number of documents including a memoir in Arabic of his life.
So who is the mysterious Al-Qaeda operative in the concrete cell and what do his claims tell us about the terrorist network and his role within it?
He was travelling under the Turkish name Erkan Ozer — one of his 16 false identities — when he was arrested in the southeastern town of Diyarbakir in August 2005. His downfall was as a result of a nighttime explosion that caused a fire in his apartment a week earlier. When fire-fighters reached the blaze they found a do-it-yourself bomb factory with vats of hydrogen, bags of aluminium powder and 6kg of plastic explosives.
Sakka had been planning to sink Israeli cruise ships off the Turkish coast using motorised dinghies. Despite having plastic surgery to disguise his face, he was easily identified by the Turkish authorities.
Police later discovered documents linking him to the Istanbul suicide bombings that killed at least 27 people after trucks exploded outside the British consulate, the HSBC bank and two synagogues. The court indictment described him as “a senior member of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation tasked with special high-level missions”. It said he had met Osama Bin Laden, who had told him to organise attacks in Turkey.
But was this all? Last week his lawyer claimed his scope was much wider. “He was the nnumber one networker for Al-Qaeda in Europe, Iran, Turkey and Syria,” Karahan said.
Read it all.