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Convictions of al-Qaeda members in Spain

by Gjermund E Jansen Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 12:23:32 AM EST

Almost four years to the day after the 9/11 disaster Spain convicted 19 out of 21 al-Qaeda suspects to jail.  The sentences ranged from 27 years for Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, the alleged leader of the al-Qaeda cell, to 7 years for Tayseer Alouni, an al-Jazzera journalist accused of aiding the cell as a courier.

Yarkas and two other al-Qaida suspects were charged with the specific offence of helping to plot the 2001 attacks. Judges in Madrid today acquitted the two other men of charges relating to the September 11 attacks, although one of them was found guilty of collaborating with a terrorist organisation.

The cell Leader Yarkas, a father of six, was found guilty of overseeing a cell that provided logistical cover for the September 11 plotters, including Mohamed Atta, who is believed to have piloted one of the two hijacked planes that destroyed the World Trade Centre in New York.

The trial, which involves 21 other suspected cell members, mostly Muslims of Syrian or Moroccan origin, is Europe's biggest of suspected al-Qaida members. The defendants are accused of terrorism, possessing illegal weapons and other offences. All have denied the charges.

A panel of three judges has heard evidence from more than 100 witnesses during the two-and-a-half month trial, which has taken place at a high-security courtroom on the outskirts of Madrid.

Al-Qaeda was spawned out of an afghan resistance movement called,Maktab al-Khadamat (MAK), allegedly founded in 1984 by Osama bin Laden and a Palestinian known as Dr. Abdullah Yusuf Azzam or the "Godfather of Jihad".  The initial idea was to recruit and train Mujahedin fighters to fight in the Jihad against the Soviet aggressors in Afghanistan.

After Dr. Azzam was killed in a car bomb explotion in Pakistan in 1989, bin Laden took over the organization and developed it into a network of interrelated organizations in preparations for a new kind of Jihad, this time expanding the Islamic struggle to other parts of the world.  In effect this meant Islamic expansion by war.  

Al-Qaeda now focused on educating and training Islamic militants and sending their "soldiers" back to Muslim countries to form their own Islamic Jihadist movements outside Afghanistan.  Some of their new operatives were sent to the United States and Europe to form militant cells for future operations in the west, culminating into the attacks against the World Trade Centre's in 1993 and 2001, the Madrid bombings in 2004 and now latest the London bombings in June 2005.

This article is also available at Bitsofnews.com.

Can you tell us on what grounds exactly the al-Jazeera journalist was convicted?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 10:17:42 AM EST
Well it seems to me as if the grounds for his conviction was somewhat questionable.  The charges against him was mostly based upon tapped telephone conversations.  In these telephone conversations the Al-Jazzera journalist Tayseer Alouni talks to suspected Al-Qaeda affiliates about some "trousers" and about "Syrian bread".  The police seems to have interpreted this as some kind of code, while the journalist himself says that his conversations was perfectly in order and was in fact no code at all.  Bear in mind that Mr. Alouni had and presumably still have, lot of friends in the Syrian community in Spain him being of Syrian background himself.

According to the police theses codes were used to coordinate a courier transport/messages system between different Al-Qaeda cells.  He was also accused of aiding the 9/11 bombers in 2001 but was acquitted of these charges.  

Here's a link to a interview with Tayseer Alouni from august 2004 about the charges:


Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 11:15:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If that's all they have, then this is a miscarriage of justice. Unfortunately, that doesn't bode well for my trust in the verdict against the other suspects - I mean there certainly was something, given Atta's travels to Spain, but the judges may have been totally wrong about who did what among the accused.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 11:31:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes I tend to agree with you.  But I have to admit that my knowledge of this case is not that comprehensive.  There could be more material and possible evidence that has not been disclosed.  Still I have to say that to use a high profiled journalist as a courier would be a bit hazardous in my opinion.  There are plenty of anonymous people out there that could have performed as well if not better as a courier than a well-known journalist like Tayseer Alouni.  As a journalist this guy has of course access to a lot of places and people, but that in itself could be more of a liability than an asset.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 12:51:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And, to boot, from everything I read on him, he is not a fundamentalist.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 27th, 2005 at 04:14:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Spanish-Syrian reporter, Taysir Alouny, was the only Western reporter in Afghanistan during the American attack in 2001. Sort of like Peter Arnett in the first Gulf War. He broadcasted for al Jazeera, which had commercial accords at the time with CNN.

He is the only reporter to have interviewed Bin Laden after the Twin Towers attack (October 2001).

His Kabul reports were not appreciated by American authorities since he told it like it was- indiscriminate bombing of civilians instead of the much toted chirurgical operations.

His condemnation appears to be based on circumstantial evidence. Reporters without Frontiers has issued a highly critical statement.

On another note it has been revealed that the al Jazeera cameraman, Sami Muhyideen al-Hajj has been detained for the past three and half years in Guantanamo without charges. He has been interrogated 100's of times by US authorities who have offered him freedom in exchange for sying on al Jazeera.

It appears that the state of reporting is either you're embedded or you go to prison.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Sep 28th, 2005 at 01:44:48 AM EST
The cynical might think that Alouny's honest reporting was his real crime, like that of so many reporters in Iraq who have met untimely ends or been wounded by U.S. troops.  It's absurd, but I think true, that the Bush regime's efforts to manage the news are successful only with that (substantial, alas) portion of the public that would have supported them even without the lies.  

Hannah K. O'Luthon
by Hannah K OLuthon on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 02:39:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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