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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > The Madrid Terrorism Trial Verdict - some critical comments

The Madrid Terrorism Trial Verdict - some critical comments

November 18, 2007

By Emerson Vermaat

On March 11, 2004, jihadist terrorists bombed four commuter trains in or near Madrid. Ten deadly bombs exploded almost simultaneously at seven-thirty nine, seven-forty one and seven-forty two in the morning. The death toll was 191, more than 1800 people were injured. The death toll would even have been higher if all the bombs would have gone off. But still, it was a devastating attack which was not carried out by suicide bombers but through devious remote control mechanisms using cellphones. Plastic explosives known as Goma 2 Eco had been used by the perpetrators. These explosives originated from a mine in Asturia, Northern Spain. Former miner José Emilio Suárez Trashorras had provided the explosives. The perpetrators were not terrorists from ETA – the notorious Basque terrorist group – but North African and Arab immigrants.

Eight perpetrators blew themselves up in their apartment in the Madrid suburb of Leganés on April 2, 2004 when special anti-terrorist police tried to enter the apartment. (Seven of them were later identified, among whom was a Tunisian man named Serhane Fakhet who probably masterminded the attacks.)

The trial against 28 other suspected perpetrators started three years later. The court in Madrid pronounced its verdict on October 31, 2007. There were seven acquittals.

Rabei Osman Sayed

Among those who were unexpectedly acquitted was Rabei Osman El Sayed Ahmed (Mohamed El Egiptio, or Mohammed The Egyptian). The court knew that Rabei Osman and those who died in Leganés as well as fourteen others "were members of a jihadist terrorist cell or group which seeks to overthrow the democratic state and eleminate the western Christian tradition by replacing them by an Islamic stated based on Islamic or Sharia law." This was one of the proven facts (hechos probabos).[1

Rabei Osman was arrested in Italy on June 8, 2004, after he told one of his friends that he was the mastermind behind the Madrid train bombings. His phone conversations had previously been tapped by the Italian anti-terrorist police DIGOS, his apartment in Milan was also bugged. In May 2004, DIGOS taped a highly interesting conversation between Rabei Osman and Yahia Mawad. He said that the attacks in Madrid had been his project, he also said that Serhane Fakhet and the others who died in Leganés were his friends. "The operation in Madrid," he said, "had been prepared by me, do you understand?" "It was my project, the group, do you understand? All of them were my friends, our group, five of them have died (this refers to the seven or eight who committed suicide in Leganés, initially there was some confusion about the exact number of terrorists who died there), and God (Allah) has rewarded them, and eight are staying in prison now, but I am connected to them. But God did not want me to die for him, so I am not with them today, but I was in touch (with them) on day 4... and the project started on day 3, I knew about the project." " "I was the thread behind the operation."

According to the Italian police translation, Osman also made reference to Al-Qaeda: "There is only one solution: join Al-Qaeda."[2 These incriminating conversations were published in June 2004 in an Italian and a Spanish newspaper. The Spanish translation was based on the Italian DIGOS translation of the original conversation in Arabic.

In the Italian courtroom Rabei Osman and his lawyers flatly denied everything. It was not him, it was somebody else's voice that was heard on the tapes. Nevertheless, Rabei Osman was convicted to ten years in November 2006. The Italian judges did take the Italian translation of the Arab conversations seriously and they also believed it was Rabei Osman himself who said these things.

Spanish prosecutors also indicted Rabei Osman. They regarded him as a leading figure involved in the preparations for the attacks and demanded a prison sentence of 38,962 years. The Italian police provided recorded wiretaps of Osman's conversations.

Osman's Spanish lawyer Endika Zulueta asked the Spanish court to investigate the Italian wiretaps. Four experts examined the taped conversations and suddenly reported that Osman said different things than the Italians claim he said. The Spanish experts assert that Osman really said this: "Yes... all of them are my friends, five of them achieved martyrdom, may they rest in peace, and eight are in prison now. But God did not want me to become a martyr and saved me from prison. I am not where they are in these days. But they were my people... But exactly... exactly what was going to happen, they did not tell me..."[3

The report from the Spanish experts very much satisfied Osman's Spanish lawyers because their client was now reported to have said that he was not informed about what exactly was going to happen. Nevertheless, even if the new Spanish text were to be correct, it is still highly incriminating. Rabei Osman did refer to the perpetrators of the Madrid attacks as his friends, and those who died he called martyrs. Spanish interpreters also claim that Osman never made any reference to Al-Qaeda.[4

It is a matter of debate whether the Italian DIGOS translation was wrong or not. In previous Italian terrorism cases similar DIGOS translations proved to be completely correct and did result in convictions. (This happened, for example, after terrorists belonging to the so-called "Varese network" were arrested and subsequently tried.) Those who regularly follow terrorism trials know that there are often long discussions in courtrooms between lawyers, prosecutors, police investigators and various interpreters about words or sentences in transcripts translated from Moroccan-Berber or Arabic into German, Dutch or Spanish. Sometimes it is not easy to understand exactly what is being said. It often depends on how much distance there is between the person who speaks and the microphone hidden in the apartment. Defense lawyers, of course, have a vested intererest in discrediting transcripts and translations provided by the police or the security service.

About two weeks after the judges in Madrid acquitted Rabei Osman, the Italian Appeals Court convicted him to a prison sentence of 8 years. The Appeals verdict did not criticize the Italian DIGOS translations.

There is something else which makes it possible that Rabei Osman was directly involved in the preparations of the Madrid attacks. Prosecutors claim he paid several visits to Spain prior to the attacks. He was in Spain between December 2003 and February 2004. Prosecutors believe he was coordinating the preparations, but the court says there is no indication that he contacted any of the cell members who executed the attacks.

When they searched Rabei Osman's apartment in Milan, Italian police investigators found an incriminating document named "11M Shaid", or "March 11, Honey." DIGOS believes "Honey" is a code name for explosives. But the Madrid Court said it is not known who wrote this document. It could very well have been written after the attacks in Madrid, the one who wrote "11 March Honey" could have been bragging about the event, the court ruled.[5 This is not what the Italian specialists from DIGOS believe, though. They think Rabei Osman has reason to hide incriminating information from the police and the prosecutors.

The court also shared the view of those who criticized the Italian translation which have Osman say: "I am the thread behind Madrid, it was my project," etc. This is clearly based on an error, the court said."[6

The only thing which in the court's view has really been proven is that Rabei Osman is an Islamist or jihadist terrorist. But there is no evidence that he knew about the attacks, ordered, coordinated or directed them. Therefore, he must be acquitted of the crime of terrorist murder.[7

The court also refused to convict Rabei Osman on the charges of membership of a terrorist organization or gang. The court said the defendant could not be convicted for this crime in Spain because he had already been convicted in Italy for the same crime (non bis in idem). The court wrongly assumed that the November 6, 2006 conviction in Milan, Italy, on November 6, 2006, was final. But the case was still before the Italian Appeals Court when the sentence in Madrid was passed.[8 This was a serious mistake. This is also what the prosecutors believe and they quickly decided to appeal Osman's acquittal. They pointed out that the crimes for which Osman was convicted in Italy are not quite identical to the crimes he is accused of in Spain. They are different activities although all these activities are linked to the international jihad, raising funds and sending militants to Iraq and Afghanistan with a view to carrying out suicide attacks. The prosecutors admitted, however, that it is difficult to provide conclusive evidence that Rabei Osman played an instigating role in the attacks or had prior knowledge that they would take place. But is is likely he had general knowledge about the attacks.[9

Critics say the Madrid Court was too lenient towards a defendant they see a dangerous instigator, a man who simply and consistently denied he was involved in anything dangerous. But what was he doing in Spain during those three critical months prior to the attacks? The court just concluded that there was no proof that Osman contacted any of the March 11 planners. But he did call them his friends, he even referred to them as "my people." The court failed to address this issue, neither did the court seriously investigate the Rabei Osman's interesting background. The court only said there was no doubt that he was "an Islamist or jihadist terrorist."

Rabei Osman has had a reputation of being a consistent liar for years. This is in line with his "Takfiri" background. Claiming to be "a stateless Palestinian," Osman applied for political asylum in Germany in 1999. His application was not accepted but the Germans could not deport him to his country of origin since they did not know his nationality. He was then sent to the foreigner's center in Lebach near the Belgian border. Soon he was known as "the Palestinian imam Mohammed Fayad" who issued diatribes against the Jews. The German security service got interested in his activities and began to monitor him.

In August 2001 he traveled to Spain where he contacted Serhane Fakhet, one of the eight March 11 terrorists who would later commit suicide in Leganés. It is believed that Osman closely cooperated with the March 11 planners in the months prior to attacks. Osman, who was a former explosives expert in the Egyptian army, had detailed and useful knowlegde about explosives. Osman also had interesting contacts in Holland and Belgium.[10


The March 11 attacks were unprecedented in Spanish history. Even the Basque ETA had never done anything like that. We are talking about very well prepared and coordinated nearly simultaneous attacks on four packed commuter trains during the morning rush hour. This is the kind of attacks Al Qaeda was known for: nearly simultaneous attacks on three to four targets. The perpetrators were anything but amateurs, they were professionally trained people who worked in secret. Neither the court nor the prosecutors seriously investigated possible Al-Qaeda links. This had to do with the increasingly fashionable view that Al-Qaeda was fragmented and weakened, no longer able at least, to conduct major operations in Europe or elsewhere. (One European author even referred to Al-Qaeda as a myth.) In this view, Al-Qaeda could not be responsible for the train bombings.[11

Today we know that Al-Qaeda is very resilient still and anything but a myth. Intelligence services now issue repeated warnings about the resurgence of Al-Qaeda. They realize that Al-Qaeda is still able to strike in Europe, as the London 7/7 bombings show. Radicals linked to Al-Qaeda control parts of Pakistan (Waziristan, Swat Valley). There are Al-Qaeda training camps where young European jihadists are being trained and the Pakistani goverment is simply unable to deal with this huge security problem. Two of the London suicide bombers visited such camps.

It was Osama bin Laden himself who, in a message "to the peoples of Europe," claimed responsibility for the Madrid attacks, linking them 9/11: "What happened on September 11 and March 11 are your goods returned to you... We have reacted in kind... our actions are but a reaction to yours."[12

Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the London based Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi also believes that Al-Qaeda was behind the Madrid train bombings. Al-Qaeda was in the habit of sending e-mails to this very newspaper, claiming responsibility for previous attacks. And on the morning of March 11, 2004, too, the London newspaper received what Atwan calls "a genuine Al-Qaeda communiqué." That it was genuine, was, Atwan claims, clear from the rhetorical style and the way the information was framed. "Within half an hour of passing the e-mail on to the wires, our offices were raided by the British security services and police. They had a warrant to search the premises, and they took the hard drive of the computer which had received the Al-Qaeda e-mail."[13 "Al Qaeda," Atwan observes, "has effected more change on western societies than vice versa, provoking draconian legislation in Britain and the US and a change of government in the 2004 Spanish general election."[14 Atwan also points out that statements from Al-Qaeda leaders have often been followed by an attack:

"On 6 October 2002, bin Laden urged his followers to strike at western economic interests; on the same day the French supertanker Limburg was ruptured by a suicide bomber in a small boat. Six days later, a nightclub on the Indonesian island of Bali was bombed, killing 200 young people. (The club was frequented by foreign tourists, especially from Australia, a US ally in the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.) In December 2003, Al-Zawahiri condemned Pakistani president Parvez Musharraf; shortly afterwards, the president miraculously escaped an assassination attempt. Prior to the Madrid bombings in 2004, both bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri released tapes in which they threatened to avenge the innocent victims of the war on Iraq."[15

Atwan is one of the few in the West who personally knows bin Laden. He interviewed him in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in 1996. Bin Laden told him Al-Qaeda was behind the June 1996 bombing of the American base at Khobar Towers in Dharan, Saudi Arabia.[16Atwan is familiar with bin Laden's personality and mentality. Many of his observations on Al-Qaeda proved to be more correct than the hastily drawn conclusions from experts who claim Al-Qaeda is "just an idea" or a "myth."

The Madrid verdict against the March 11 perpetrators mentions the documents, videos and a Toshiba computer which were found in the apartment in Leganés where 8 of the perpetrators blew themselves up. There were videos about Al-Qaeda training camps and a video from the terrorist organization "Ansar Al-Sunnah" (linked to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the former Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq), referring to an attack against members of the Spanish intelligence service CNI in Iraq in November 2003. (It is not unlikely Zarqawi ordered the Madrid train bombings, his network in Western Europe was huge.) There was a video about the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as well as a video from Abu Qatada – a firebrand cleric in London who is also linked to Al-Qaeda – about "The objectives of jihad." An USB-stick was found which contained interesting documents from the Al-Qaeda website "Global Islamic Media."[17

This shows that those who died in Leganés were directly or indirectly involved in Al-Qaeda, at least they possessed a lot of information about Al-Qaeda.

Youssef Belhadj and Al-Qaeda

The verdict further says that Youssef Belhadj, one of the Moroccans on trial in Madrid, "is a member of an organization which belongs to Al-Qaeda." "He justified acts of terrorism against the infidels and was involved in proselyting activities and fundraising for the international jihad."[18Belhadj kept this money in a drawer in an apartment in Molenbeek, an area of Brussels known as a refuge of radicals and jihadists.

Belhadj was in Spain between mid-February and March 3, 2004 where he stayed at the apartment of his sister Safia Belhadj and his brother-in-law Allal Moussaten. With their sons Mohammed and Ibrahim Al-Qaeda member Youssef Belhadj discussed topics related to the jihad and to acts of violence against the infidels and all those who do not agree with the ideas and concepts of radical Islam. Mohammed Moussaten, who was also on trial Madrid, stayed at his uncle's apartment in Molenbeek-Brussels in December 2004. Yousssef told his nephew Mohammed that he was a member of Al-Qaeda and gave him access to restricted websites about the preparations for suicide attacks, beheadings and the jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq.[19

Youssef Belhadj was arrested in Brussels in February 2005 and appeared before a Brussels court in August 2005 on suspicion of membership of a terrorist organization and identity papers fraud. He was later extradited to Spain to be tried as a suspect in the trial on the March 11 attacks. Spanish police investigations into his cellphone calls showed that Belhadj had been communicating about terrorist attacks in Spain five months before these attacks actually occurred.[20Belgian investigators believe Belhadj is a prominent member of the "Moroccan Islamic Combattant Group" (GICM). This movement was created in 1997/98 in Afghanistan at Osama bin Laden's personal instigation. The GICM primarily operates in Belgium, France and Spain.

GICM leader Hassan El Haski ("Abu Hamza") was also on trial in Madrid and was sentenced to 15 years for playing a leading role in a terrorist gang (banda terrorista). (Prosecutors had demanded a sentence of 38,962 years.). Like his friend Belhadj, Hassan El Haski also lived Belgium. He stayed with his brother Lahousinne in the city of Maaseik. Lahousinne was sentenced to six years jail in February 2006 after a major trial against an important GICM terrorist cell operating in Belgium.

Another convicted member of that cell was Mourad Charabou. He was one of Rabei Osman's Belgian contacts. Osman phoned Charabou on May 24, 2004, telling him that "Serhane (Fakhet), Fouad and all the brothers are dead, the whole group is with God."[21 This refers to the terrorists who died in Leganés.

Belgian and Spanish investigators believe that Youssef Belhadj was the mysterious "Abu Dujan(a) Al-Afghani, the military spokesman of Al-Qaeda in Europe" who claimed responsibility for the Madrid 11 attacks in a video message found on March 13, 2004. (This is probably the reason why the prosecutors in the Madrid Trial demanded a prison sentence of 38,962 years.) The video message referred to "the blessed conquests of New York and Washington" (=9/11) and said that the attacks in Madrid "were a response to your collaboration with the criminals Bush and his allies. They are a response to the crimes you committed in the world and in Iraq and Afghanistan." "You must know that we choose death as our way to life, but you prefer life as your way to death."[22

The Madrid court condemned Belhadj to a prison sentence of 12 years for membership of a terrorist gang. This was probably because other investigators believe that the masked man who claimed the attacks was not Belhadj but Jamal Ahmidan (El Chino), one of the key organizers who would die in Leganés three weeks later. In fact, there were three masked men who were wearing suicide bomb belts, the man in the middle could indeed have been Ahmidan.

For some reason the Madrid judges did not pay any attention to to this important claim made just two days after the attacks, nor did the verdict delve into the political motives of the perpetrators. Other claims were also completely ignored. This is a serious omission.[23]It is clear that the perpetrators were very angry about the presence of Spanish troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar, a conservative, British prime minister Tony Blair and US president George Bush met in the Azores shortly before the invasion of Iraq. By that time Al-Qaeda was fully operative in Iraq offering assistance to those who wanted to resist the invasion.

Jamal Ahmidan and Abdelilah El Fadoual El Akil

The verdict does mention, however, that Jamal Ahmidan and his friend Abdelilah El Fadoual El Akil paid a visit to Holland in the millennium year of 2000, and from there they contacted Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, "a top recruiter of jidadist terrorists." (Bakarat Yarkas, a nationalized Syrian immigrant living in Madrid, was, in fact, the leader of a very active Al-Qaeda cell in Spain; he was also in touch with the 9/11 conspirators and made a mysterious phone call in August 2001 about people who were taking flying lessons.). Both Ahmidan and El Akil had made a jihadist trip to Chechnya in the previous year, it was probably in Chechnya that they were recruited by Al-Qaeda. El Akil lived in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. On March 1, 2004 he met Ahmidan in the latter's small farm house in Chinchón. It was here that the bombs for the March 11 attacks were assembled. The Goma 2 Eco explosives had been transported by Ahmidan in a Volkswagen Golf on the previous day. Ahmidan now asked his friend Akil to drive the Volkswagen Golf to Ceuta which he on March 3, 2004.[24 The court sentenced El Akil to nine years. (The prosecution had demanded 12.) The court did not follow the prosecutors who saw him as a member of a terrorist organization or gang. He was, in the court's view, only one of the collaborators (colaboración con banda terrorista). El Akil's close ties to Jamal Ahmidan, however, were an indication that the prosecutors' view was right.

Ahmidan was a notorious Moroccan drug dealer operating from mainland Spain and Ceuta. The explosives were financed by profits made from the drugs trade (The Taliban in Afghanistan do the same: they finance terrorism by selling drugs.) Ahmidan often used forged identity documents. In January 2004 he produced a passport in the name Youssef Ben Salan when he signed the papers for the rental agreement of the country house in Chinchón. Ahmidan also used a Moroccan passport belonging to Othman El Gnaoui, showing Ahmidan's picture. Gnaoui was also on trial in Madrid: he got 32 years.

Emerson Vermaat is a Dutch investigative reporter specialized in crime and terrorism. His website is: emersonvermaat.com


A shorter version in Dutch, published in Reformatorisch Dagblad, the Netherlands, on November 5, 2007.


Kritiek op vonnis aanslagen Madrid 11 maart 2004

door drs. Emerson Vermaat

Op 31 oktober velde de rechtbank in Madrid vonnis tegen 28 verdachten die aangeklaagd waren op verdenking van betrokkenheid bij de aanslagen in Madrid. Bij die aanslagen op 11 maart 2004 kwamen 191 mensen om het leven en raakten 1800 personen gewond. De rechtbank sprak 7 verdachten vrij en verklaarde en dat de Baskische afscheidingsbeweging ETA geen enkele rol bij de aanslagen had gespeeld.

Er was na afloop veel kritiek op het vonnis. Want één van degenen die vrijgesproken werd, was Rabei Osman el Sayed die in Italië werd gearresteerd nadat de Italiaanse anti-terreurpolitie DIGOS telefoongesprekken had afgeluisterd waarin hij verklaarde het brein achter de aanslagen te zijn. Tijdens het proces werd betoogd dat de in het Italiaans vertaalde transcripties van die gesprekken niet juist waren. Maar tijdens terreurprocessen in Nederland komen advocaten van terreurverdachten steevast met precies dezelfde argumenten: de tolken van politie en AIVD hebben belastende gesprekken niet op de juiste wijze vertaald en dus zijn ze onbruikbaar voor het bewijs. In eerdere terreurzaken bleken de vertalingen van de DIGOS echter uiterst betrouwbaar en leidden inderdaad tot veroordelingen. In Spanje gaat het openbaar ministerie dan ook in hoger beroep want men ziet in Rabei Osman wel degelijk een van de hoofdverdachten: tegen hem was een zeer hoge straf geëist. Volgens de aanklagers bevond Rabei Osman zich tussen december 2003 en februari 2004 in Spanje waar hij de voorbereidingen voor de aanslagen coördineerde. Twee weken vóór de aanslagen vertrok hij weer. De rechtbank erkende wel dat Rabei Osman deel uitmaakt van een terroristisch netwerk, maar meende toch dat er onvoldoende bewijs voor een veroordeling was. Rabei Osman had overigens hoogst interessante contacten met terroristen in Nederland en België.

Er zijn meer vragen. Dat de ETA niet achter de aanslagen zat, is duidelijk. Maar wie dan wel? De aanslagen waren zó goed en zó grondig voorbereid dat evenzeer duidelijk is dat het niet om een groep amateurs ging. Ze deden sterk aan het patroon bij eerdere aanslagen van Al-Qaeda denken: meerdere aanslagen die vrijwel gelijktijdig plaatsvonden.

Verwijzend naar de aanslagen van 11 september 2001 en 11 maart 2004, verklaarde Osama bin Laden op 15 april 2004 in "een boodschap aan de volken van Europa": "Wíj hebben u met gelijke munt terugbetaald, ónze acties zijn slechts een reactie op die van u." Volgens Abdel Bari Atwan, een van de beste kenners van Al-Qaeda, zat Bin Ladens terreurnetwerk inderdaad achter de aanslagen in Madrid. Anderen ontkennen dit met grote stelligheid. De rechtbank erkende alleen dat Al-Qaeda "mogelijk een ideologisch referentiekader voor de daders vormde". Overigens staat in het vonnis wél dat één van de verdachten, Youssef Belhadj, "lid was van een groepering die deel uitmaakte van Al-Qaeda". Belhadj, die zich vaak in Brussel ophield, was lid van de Marokkaans-Islamitische Strijdgroep (GICM) en hield zich onder meer met fondswerving bezig. Hij kreeg 12 jaar, veel te weinig vinden de aanklagers. Uit afgeluisterde telefoongesprekken bleek dat Belhadj al vijf maanden vóór de aanslagen wist dat er iets zou gaan gebeuren.


In het vonnis staat bovendien dat Jamal Ahmidan, de man die met zijn vele criminele contacten de explosieven voor de aanslagen regelde, in het jaar 2000 contact had opgenomen met de Spaanse Syriër Eddin Barakat Yarkas, "de hoogst verantwoordelijke in Europa voor het rekruteren van jihadistische terroristen". Bakarat Yarkas was tevens leider van het Al-Qaeda netwerk in Spanje en werd daarvoor in 2005 veroordeeld. Ahmidan en zijn vriend Abdelilah el Fadoual el Akil bevonden zich in Nederland toen zij met Eddin Barakat Yarkas contact opnamen. Het is niet onwaarschijnlijk dat beiden ook nadien nog contacten met belangrijke personen uit het Al-Qaeda netwerk hebben onderhouden. De eerste contacten met Al-Qaeda waren mogelijk in 1999 gelegd toen Ahmidan en el Akil in Tsjetsjenië op jihad gingen. Ahmidan behoorde tot de groep van 7 hoofddaders die zichzelf in april 2004 in een flat in een buitenwijk van Madrid opbliezen en hij kon dus niet worden berecht. Maar zijn boezemvriend el Akil werd wel berecht en veroordeeld: hij kreeg 9 jaar.

De rechtbank legde tenslotte onvoldoende accent op het motief van de daders. Volgens aanklager Olga Sánchez en onderzoeksrechter Juan del Olmo waren de organisatoren achter de aanslagen woedend over de Amerikaanse inval in Irak en met name over de aanwezigheid van Spaanse troepen in Irak. Door middel van spectaculaire aanslagen die enkele dagen vóór de parlementsverkiezingen gepleegd werden, hoopten zij dat de conservatieve regering-Aznar het veld zou ruimen om plaats te maken voor een linkse regering die de Spaanse troepen uit Irak zou terugtrekken. Aznar en zijn Partido Popular waren zo onverstandig om de ETA de schuld van de aanslagen te geven, terwijl al snel duidelijk werd dat het om moslimextremisten ging. De kiezers kregen het gevoel dat de regering hen om politieke redenen had voorgelogen en liepen massaal over naar het sociaal-democratische kamp van José Luis Zapatero, die direct aankondigde de Spaanse troepen uit Irak te zullen terugtrekken. Dat was precies wat Al-Qaeda en de organisatoren

achter de aanslagen hadden beoogd.

[1Audiencia Nacional. Sala de lo Penal, Sección Segunda. Summario número 20/04 del Juzgado Central de Instrucción núm. 66. Rollo de Sala núm. 5/05, Sentencia número 65/2007, Madrid, October 31, 2007, p. 172, 173. (Quoted hereafter as: Madrid Court March 11 Sentence).

[2 El País, June 9, 2004, p. 17 ("El atentado de Madrid ha sido un proyecto mío").

[3El País, November 4, 2007, Domingo: 11-M. La verdad, p. 7 ("El bulo de la autoría intelectual").

[4 Madrid Court March 11 Sentence, op. cit., p. 635.

[5 Ibid., p. 632, 633.

[6 Ibid. p. 634, 635.

[7 Ibid.. p. 635, 636.

[8 El País, November 6, 2007, p. 1, 14 ("El Tribunal del 11-M absolvió a El Egiptio por un error").

[9El País, November 7, 2007, p. 14 ("La Fiscalía sólo recurrirá la absolución de El Egipto"); El Mundo, November 7, 2007, p. 1, 14 ("La Fiscalía se rinde y no recurrirá las absoluciones por planear el 11-M").

[10 Emerson Vermaat, De dodelijke planning van Al-Qaida (Soesterberg: Aspekt Publishers, 2005), p. 140, 141.

[11 See for example Jason Burke, Al-Qaeda. The True Story of Radical Islam (London: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 8, 272: "There was no or little direction from bin Laden or even people close to him. If it grew out of anything, the Madrid bomb cell grew out of a series of overlapping, highly informal circles of militants in the Maghreb and southwest Europe." Page 290: "All that exists is the idea of Al-Qaeda." See also the interview with Jason Burke in NRC Handelsblad's Monthly Magazine, September 2005, p. 10-14 ("Iedereen kan nu zijn Al-Qaeda beginnen"): "De terreurorganisatie heeft altijd zijn mythische trekjes gehad," and: Rik Coolsaet, De mythe van Al-Qaeda. Terrorisme als symptoom van een zieke samenleving (Louvain: Van Halewyck, 2004).

[12 Bruce Lawrence (Ed.), Messages to the World. The Statements of Osama bin Laden (London/New York: Verso, 2005), p. 234.

[13 Abdel Bari Atwan, The Secret History of Al-Qaida (London: Saqi Books, 2006), p. 121, 122.

[14 Ibid., p. 10.

[15 Ibid. p. 230, 231.

[16 Ibid., p. 36.

[17 Madrid Court March 11 Sentence, p. 211, 212.

[18 Ibid.. p. 215.

[19 Ibid.. p. 215, 216.

[20 Belgische Senaat, Zitting 2005-2006, Bulletin 3-58, August 18, 2005, Vragen en Antwoorden: Terrorisme – Terreurnetwerk GICM.

[21 Madrid Court March 11 Sentence, p. 220, 221; Nieuwsblad.be, February 16, 2006 ("Terreurverdachten uit Maaseik veroordeeld"); Nieuwsblad.be, April 4, 2006 ("Aanslag Madrid beraamd in België").

[22 Casimiro García-Abadillo, 11-M. La Venganza (Madrid: La Esfera de los Libros, 2004), p. 114.

[23 El País, November 4, 2007, p. 15 ("El tribunal omitió el contenido de las reinvindicaciones"). "El tribunal del 11-M, que se ha destacado por su minuciosidad con los detalles, omitió mencionar en la sentencia los contenidos de todas las reivindicaciones de los atentados que realizaron los suicidas de Leganés y en las que vinculan la matanza a la presencia de tropas españolas en Irak y Afghanistan."

[24 Madrid Court March 11 Sentence, p. 201, 202.

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