Wednesday, April 28, 2004

U.S. intelligence agencies have not been able to link an Islamist extremist wanted in the Madrid train bombings to the September 11 attacks, as an indictment released yesterday in Spain charges.

“We’re still waiting to see what the Spanish government has,” a senior Bush administration official said yesterday of Amer Azizi’s involvement in the September 11 attacks..

Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon yesterday said Azizi, a Moroccan fugitive, helped organize a meeting in northeastern Spain in July 2001 that key plotters, including suicide pilot Mohamed Atta, used to finalize details of the U.S. attacks later that year.

A second U.S. official said that the government knew about Azizi’s involvement in an al Qaeda cell in Spain, but that his direct role in planning the September 11 attacks has not been confirmed.

Azizi, who is thought to be hiding in Europe, was a key planner in the March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 persons, according to an earlier indictment.

The indictment issued yesterday by Judge Garzon says Azizi arranged a meeting with Atta and others to settle details of the attacks on the United States and it charges Mr. Azizi with multiple counts of murder — “as many deaths and injuries as were committed” on September 11, 2001.

Also present at the meeting was another al Qaeda leader, Ramzi Binalshibh, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and who is accused as a key planner in the September 11 attacks.

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