Kommentar

Europas hittil største terror-rettssak åpner i Madrid idag. 24 står på tiltalebenken, flere av dem syrere. Allerede i 1996 ble myndighetene klar over at det var et voldelig islamistisk miljø i Spania. De ble satt under overvåking, men politiet forsto ikke kodene – før i ettertid.

Two weeks before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a Syrian immigrant in Spain received a phone call from London. The caller reported that he had «entered the field of aviation» and that «classes were going well.» He added, mysteriously, that «the throat of the bird has been slit.»

Påtalemyndigheten er overbevist om at gruppen som står for retten spilte en instrumental rolle i å tilrettelegge 911. Spania har i lengre tid fungert som base for Al Qaida. En av de sentrale er syreren Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, arrestert i november 2001.

Myndighetene vil ha dem dømt for delaktighet i massedrap. Forsvarerne hevder de uvitende hjalp trosfeller. Samme argument brukte forsvareren for marokkanske Mounir Motassadeq (29), som opprinnelig ble dømt til 15 års fengsel for å ha fungert som Hamburg-cellens kasserer. Motassadeq sto Atta så nær at han undertegnet hans testamente. Likevel ble han frikjent.

Problemet for påtalemyndigheten er å overbevise dommerene om at de tiltalte med viten og vilje bisto terror.

En mann som Yarkas var i Storbritannia 20 ganger og besøkte mannen som anses for å være Al Qaidas åndelige leder i Europa, Abu Qatada. Han ble nylig løslatt fra Belmarsh-fengslet, etter at den øverste domstolen i Høyesterett fant det lovstridig å holde dem på ubestemt tid.

Det er interessant hvor viktig rolle syrere har spilt:

Most of the accused Syrians are middle-aged businessmen with worldwide contacts, both in commercial and radical Islamic circles.

Syrerne i Spania hadde kontakt med to landsmenn i Tyskland: Mamoun Darkazanli and Mohammed Zammar. Alle var medlem av Det muslimske brorskap.

Både europeiske og amerikanske etterforskere tror de to syrerne var med å rekruttere cellen som ble Hamburg-gruppen til Mohammed Atta, og at de hjalp til med å sette dem i forbindelse med Al Qaida-ledelsen i Afghanistan.

Det forklarer den tette forbindelsen mellom Hamburg og Spania.

Det knytter seg stor interesse til et møte som Mohammed Atta avla i Spania i juli 2001: Han fløy fra USA til Tarragona. Her møtte han Ramzi Binalshib, en av innsiderne fra Hamburg.

Den kjente etterforskningsdommeren Baltasar Garzon rullet opp nettverket og forbindelsen Spania-Hamburg-911: I en 700 sider lang tiltale tok han ut tiltale mot 35 personer i september 2003, senere utvidet til 41. At 24 står for spansk rett sier noe om Spanias sentrale rolle, og det betydelige arbeidet som er nedlagt av spanske myndigheter.

Det gjør rettssaken til den viktigste så langt i kampen mot terror.

In court papers, Garzon stated that Yarkas, the Syrian who moved to Madrid in the early 1980s, was instrumental in creating a network of Islamic radicals in Spain that later gave money and support to al Qaeda as part of the Sept. 11 conspiracy. Garzon concluded that it was «crystal clear» that Yarkas knew details about the hijackings in advance.

According to a superseding indictment filed in February, Yarkas and three other suspects «gave logistical support as well as protection» to Atta and Binalshibh when the two conspirators flew to Spain in July 2001. Prosecutors allege that Yarkas was in repeated phone contact with the Algerian al Qaeda member who was present at the July 16 meeting between Atta and Binalshibh, and that Yarkas’s phone number was found in an apartment in Germany used by the Hamburg cell.

Spanish prosecutors have collected other bits of evidence that al Qaeda drew more support from their country than previously believed. Two suspects, for instance, are accused of providing a stolen Spanish passport to Binalshibh before his trip to Tarragona, an indication that ties between the Hamburg cell and the Spanish network were long-standing.

Møtet i Tarragona, og Attas Spania-tur, er helt sentralt for å forstå hvordan 911 ble planlagt.

Politiet vet om møtet mellom Atta, Binalshib og en algerier ved navn Mohamed Belfatmi.

Men fem av de 12 dagene er helt blanke. Man aner ikke hva Atta foretok seg. Binalshib har sittet i amerikansk varetekt i flere år, men skal ikke ha røpet noenting om møtet.

More than 43 months after the hijackings, considerable gaps re2_kommentar in investigators’ understanding of how the plot was carried out. One concerns a 12-day period in July 2001 after the lead hijacker, Mohamed Atta, flew from Florida to Spain for a meeting with Ramzi Binalshibh, a key conspirator and friend of Atta’s from Germany.

U.S. and European officials have concluded that the meeting was called to set a date for the hijackings and was prompted by al Qaeda’s founder, Osama bin Laden, who was growing impatient with the pace of preparations.

In recently filed court papers, Spanish prosecutors said they had new evidence that Atta and Binalshibh met in the coastal town of Tarragona on July 16, 2001, with Mohamed Belfatmi, an Algerian, to discuss final arrangements for the hijackings.

The meeting, according to the court documents, was organized by Belfatmi and three other al Qaeda members in Spain who also knew about the plot. But for five of the 12 days Atta and Binalshibh were in Spain, investigators have no idea where the pair were or what they were doing.

Starting two weeks before the attacks, Binalshibh, Belfatmi and two other members of the Hamburg cell left Europe for Pakistan, investigators have concluded. At least three of the men took connecting flights through Spain.

Sept. 11 Suspects Go on Trial In Madrid