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Spain links suspects to bin Laden

By CNN's Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Eight suspected Islamic terrorists arrested last week have been jailed by a judge who accused them of belonging to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, authorities told CNN.

A court official said on Sunday that some of the eight suspects jailed may have had a role in the Sept. 11 attacks and that one may have had direct contact with Mohammad Atta, who the FBI believes led the September 11 hijackings.

But a senior Spanish government official said late on Saturday that four of the suspects may have had direct contact with Atta. This official told CNN the group may have provided "logistical support" for the September 11 attacks.

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Atta visited Spain twice this year to meet other terrorists, police said, but authorities have not made public the identities of Atta's contacts in Spain.

The judge, Baltasar Garzon, accused the eight of belonging to al Qaeda, the terrorist organisation run by bin Laden, and of robbery and forging documents, Spain's state news agency EFE reported.

No trial date has been set for the eight men, who are mainly Syrian-born. They have denied the charges against them.

Garzon released three other men, out of a total of 11 men arrested last Tuesday in Madrid and Granada.

The eight suspects sent to jail had been keeping contact with other Islamic terrorist suspects arrested in two other round-ups in Spain this year, court sources told EFE.

It was the first time court sources have told reporters there were apparent links between all of the various groups arrested in Spain.

The other suspected terrorists were six Algerians arrested last September, currently in Spanish jail, and Mohamed Bensakhria, an alleged aide to bin Laden arrested last June in Spain and currently in French custody.

The eight most recent suspects recruited people to be sent to terrorist training camps abroad, and also provided fake documents, Spain's Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy told reporters last Tuesday.

Arraignment at the National Court in Madrid began Saturday and lasted 14 hours. It ended around 2 a.m. Sunday and the judge issued a formal order of imprisonment.

The alleged leader of the suspects was identified as Syrian-born Imad Eddin Barakat Yarbas. His Madrid phone number was listed in the agenda of a man considered to be a collaborator of Atta, the court official told CNN.

Undercover police monitoring of Eddin Barakat over the past two years has led authorities to a previously little-known terrorist training base on a remote island in Indonesia, Spain's largest newspaper, El Pais, reported Sunday.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the newspaper report.



 
 
 
 


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