- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2001

The FBI's manhunt for suspected accomplices in the September 11 assault on America expanded this week from Germany to Spain, where eight men continued to be questioned yesterday on their possible roles in planning the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
The eight, described by authorities in Madrid as members of the al Qaeda terrorist network, were arrested Sunday and ordered held without bail by Judge Baltasar Garzon on charges "directly related with the preparation and development of the attacks perpetrated by the suicide pilots on September 11."
A committal order signed by Judge Garzon said there were as many "charges of terrorism" against the eight as there were dead and injured in the September 11 attacks. The men were interrogated for 12 hours on Sunday before the order was signed.
Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy told reporters in Madrid the eight men are suspected of recruiting individuals for terrorist training and also committing terrorist acts and providing false documents. He said he believed the eight either trained in camps in Afghanistan or had seen combat in Bosnia-Herzegovina "or other fronts in the Islamic struggle."
The arrests came after one of the men, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarbas, was caught in a telephone intercept by Spanish intelligence officials, who described Mr. Barakat as al Qaeda's leader in Spain.
The eight men pleaded not guilty to the charges. Further court appearances are pending.
Mr. Barakat, also known as Abu Dahdah, has been linked by German and U.S. officials to suspected terrorists who operated out of Hamburg. He has been tied directly to Mohamed Atta, one of the September 11 hijackers.
His telephone number was among items seized by German police during a raid on a Hamburg apartment after the attacks in New York and Washington. He reportedly met with al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden at least twice. He also has been described as a close associate of al Qaeda's second in command, Muhammad Atef, believed killed last week in a U.S. air raid on Afghanistan.
The Madrid newspaper El Pais said yesterday an investigation by Spanish authorities into Mr. Barakat led investigators to an al Qaeda terrorist training camp in Indonesia, where up to 3,000 men trained.
Atta, according to authorities, visited Spain twice before the attacks once in January and July. German and U.S. officials believe he met with members of al Qaeda during the two visits.
Germany has surfaced as a major staging area for the terrorists who attacked America, and as a center of operation for a terrorist cell bent on targeting U.S. sites overseas and in this country.
Last month, the FBI and German authorities began an extensive search for three suspected accomplices in the September 11 attacks. More than a dozen FBI agents went to Hamburg to work with German officials in the hunt for Said Bahaji, Ramsi Binalshibh and Zakariya Essabar, all members of the Hamburg terrorist cell.
Attorney General John Ashcroft has said the three men had been part of the terrorist cell since 1999 along with Atta and two other hijackers who crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center and in Pennsylvania.
He said it was "clear" Hamburg served as a central base of operations for the six men.
German authorities issued international arrest warrants for the three men, who are now considered fugitives. In addition to the three fugitives, cell members included Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, believed to have piloted the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center's north and south towers, and Ziad Jarrah, suspected of flying the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
Also of concern to U.S. and German authorities is what role, if any, a Syrian businessman now living in Hamburg played in the attacks through bank accounts he maintained in Hamburg, where he has lived as a naturalized German citizen for the past several years.
Bank accounts maintained by Mamoun Darkazanli, owner of an import-export business, were frozen in October by German authorities. He has acknowledged working for Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, bin Laden's suspected finance chief, but denied being involved in terrorist attacks. His house was raided by German authorities two days after the September 11 attacks, although he has not been charged.
German authorities said Mr. Darkazanli met with al-Shehhi on several occasions. They also said he co-signed a Deutsche Bank account in 1995 as a favor for Mr. Salim, who currently is being held in New York pending trial in the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa.


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