Mannen som kaller seg Muhammad Egypteren, og som ble arrestert i Milano forrige måned, er en utrolig snakksalig type. Italiensk politi sitter med en masse materiale etter å ha avlyttet telefonen hans.
Muhammad Egypteren har gitt en masse opplysninger om sin delaktighet i Madrid-bombene 11. mars, som han hevder han brukte 2,5 år av sitt liv på. Han hadde dataprogram for hvordan man aktiviserer flere mobiltelefoner på en gang, oppskrifter på bomber og selvmordsvester og mye annet. Likevel er det et spørsmål om hvor mye som blir godtatt som bevis av en domstol. Vestlige domstoler stiller uhyre strenge krav. I et mer autoritært styre ville han aldri sluppet ut igjen.
Ahmeds bevegelser rundt om i Europa reiser også spørsmålet om hva man skal ta mest hensyn til: asylsøkere eller potensielle terrorister. Et for hensynsfullt system vil uvilkårlig gjøre det lettere for menn som Ahmed å skjule seg.
They also offer a case study of the challenges and frustrations Europe faces in monitoring radicals, routing out sleeper cells and prosecuting and convicting those they arrest.
In Germany in 1999 and 2000, Mr. Ahmed served 16 months in a detention center, feigning different Arabic accents and pretending to be a “stateless Palestinian” seeking political asylum.
In Madrid in 2001 and 2002, he befriended a group of radical Muslims, some of whom were involved in the March 11 bombings and were killed in a suicide operation while trying to escape the police.
In a Paris suburb in 2003, he eked out a living as an illegal construction worker and house painter. In Milan in 2004, he lived in an apartment in a tidy, upscale neighborhood, where he seemed to spend most of his day watching Arabic-language movies and news on satellite television.
Italiensk politi får ros for å ha samarbeidet med spansk. Det er innad i Spania det knirker, og det virker som om den nye regeringen har prioriteringer som kolliderer med politiets.
But the case has also divided the police and intelligence and law enforcement officials in Spain’s new Socialist government, exposing rivalries between agencies and a lack of trust among career officials and less experienced political appointees.
While some senior Spanish officials have expressed delight that Italy has Mr. Ahmed safely behind bars, others are upset that it has not yet granted Spain’s request for extradition.
“This situation doesn’t speak very well about European cooperation against terrorism,” said Fernando Reinares, the new senior adviser on counterterrorism to the Spanish interior minister.
One example of the apparent lack of coordination in Spain is that important Spanish intelligence officials complain that they have not been given access to voice copies of Mr. Ahmed’s conversations in Arabic, which they say are crucial for intelligence gathering. But senior Spanish police officials acknowledge that the Italians began turning over the voice recordings to the Spanish magistrate in charge of the investigation even before Mr. Ahmed was arrested.
Egypt nekter å samarbeide overhodet. Derfra kom det ingen informasjon om Ahmed.
Spain and Italy complain that Egypt, which is loath to acknowledge that its citizens are involved in terrorism abroad, has refused to provide information about Mr. Ahmed.
According to an internal Spanish Interior Ministry document, in Egypt Mr. Ahmed was a member of the terrorist group Egyptian Islamic Jihad, was attached to an explosives brigade during his military service and spent time in a maximum security prison for terrorist activities.
The request for information “was communicated to the Egyptian services,” the report said. “Unfortunately, these services have given us no data.”