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Court convicts 'Spanish Taliban'

From Al Goodman
CNN Madrid Bureau Chief

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Abderrahman Ahmed was detained in Pakistan and held for two years at Guantanamo Bay.

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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish court Wednesday convicted a man, known in the local media as the "Spanish Taliban," of membership in the al Qaeda terrorist group, and sentenced him to six years in prison, a court spokeswoman told CNN.

Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed -- born in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on Morocco's north coast -- was detained in Pakistan, then held for two years at the U.S. base at Guantanamo, Cuba, and finally delivered to Spain in February 2004.

Spain's state-run news agency EFE reported that the sentence held that Abderrahman Ahmed "had full knowledge of the terrorist profile" of al Qaeda, and he decided to go to Afghanistan several years ago "with the aim of becoming a mujahideen (holy warrior) and carrying out Jihad (holy war)."

The Spanish prosecutor sought nine years in prison, but the National Court judges who heard the case decided on a lower sentence of six years.

Abderrahman Ahmed professed his innocence during the trial and at one point, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, declared that he was a "martyr" for having endured detention at Guantanamo.

"It's destroyed my life," the newspaper quoted the 31-year-old defendant as testifying during the trial.

The sentence comes 10 days after Europe's largest trial to date against al Qaeda suspects concluded in Madrid, with the National Court convicting 18 defendants of membership in or collaboration with al Qaeda, while acquitting six others.

The main defendant in that trial, Syrian-born Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, got the stiffest sentence, of 27 years. That included 12 years for leadership of al Qaeda in Spain and 15 years for "conspiracy" in the planning of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

He was not convicted, however -- as the prosecution had sought -- of being an accessory to murder, which could have brought a sentence of more than 74,000 years, computed for the murders of each of the 9/11 victims.

The Spanish court, in the sentence handed down on September 26 in the earlier trial, also found Al-Jazeera television reporter Taysir Alony of collaboration with al Qaeda and sentenced him to seven years in jail. Alony, a Syrian-born Spaniard, was not charged in connection with 9/11.

Spain has various other cases pending involving suspected Islamic terrorists, most notably the Madrid train bombings last year that killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,500. Authorities blame the attacks on Islamic terrorists.

A total of 109 people have been charged in the train bombings, and 26 remain in jail. Indictments are expected soon, and a trial would follow, a court official told CNN.

Spain also has a separate case under investigation against suspects who allegedly plotted to send a truck bomb to the National Court headquarters, which handles cases of terrorism.

Arrests were made before the attack could occur, authorities say.

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