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Quote:'Mastermind' acquitted in Madrid train bombing


Associated Press

October 31, 2007 at 11:07 AM EDT

MADRID — Three lead defendants in the 2004 Madrid train bombings were found guilty of mass murder and other charges Wednesday but four other top suspects were convicted on lesser charges and an accused ringleader was completely acquitted.

The verdicts were a partial victory for prosecutors, with 21 of the 28 people on trial convicted on at least some charges. Seven got off entirely, including an Egyptian who prosecutors said had bragged that he masterminded the March 11, 2004 blasts, which killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800.

The three lead suspects convicted of murder and attempted murder each received sentences ranging from 34,000 to 43,000 years in prison, although under Spanish law the most time they can spend in jail is 40 years. Spain has no death penalty or life imprisonment.

The three are: Jamal Zougam, a Moroccan convicted of placing at least one bomb on one of the trains; Emilio Suarez Trashorras, a Spaniard who is a former miner found guilty of supplying the explosives used in the attacks; and Othman Gnaoui, a Moroccan accused of being a right-hand man of the plot's operational chief.

Top suspects Youssef Belhadj, Hassan el Haski, Abdulmajid Bouchar and Rafa Zouhier were acquitted of murder but convicted of lesser charges including belonging to a terrorist organization. They received sentences of between 10 and 18 years.

Fourteen other people were found guilty of lesser charges like belonging to a terrorist group.

Accused mastermind Rabei Osman, who is in jail in Italy, had allegedly bragged in a wiretapped phone conversation that the massacre was his idea. But his defence lawyers argued successfully that the tapes were mistranslated.

Six lesser suspects were acquitted on all charges in addition to Osman.

Much of the evidence against the men was circumstantial. Mr. Bouchar, for instance, had been seen on one of the bombed trains shortly before the attack, but at trial nobody could definitively identify him.

Circumstantial evidence is admissable in Spanish court but the judges may have avoided relaying heavily upon it because of a number of high-profile terror cases that were overturned on appeal, including one involving a Spanish cell accused of involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.

udge Javier Gomez Bermudez read out the verdicts in a hushed courtroom, with heavy security, including bomb-sniffing dogs and police helicopters, outside.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who came to power after the attacks, welcomed the verdicts. "Justice was rendered today," he said.

"The barbarism perpetrated on March 11, 2004, has left a deep imprint of pain on our collective memory, an imprint that stays with us as a homage to the victims," said Mr. Zapatero.

Most of the suspects are young Muslim men of North African origin who allegedly acted out of allegiance to al-Qaeda to avenge the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, although Spanish investigators say they did so without a direct order or financing from Osama bin Laden's terror network.

Judge Bermudez said the probe had turned up no evidence of involvement by the armed Basque separatist group ETA, dismissing the initial argument of the conservative pro-U.S. government in power at the time of the attacks. The theory is still embraced by many Spaniards.

The day of carnage is etched in Spain's collective memory and became widely known as simply 11-M, much as the term 9-11 conjures up so much pain for Americans.

The sentences of thousands of years for lead suspects are largely symbolic because the maximum jail time for a terrorism conviction in Spain is 40 years. Spain has no death penalty or life imprisonment.

Seven suspected ringleaders of the attacks — including the operational chief and an ideologue — blew themselves up in a safe house outside Madrid three weeks after the massacre as special forces who tracked them via cell phone traffic moved in to arrest them.

The attacks had profound political repercussions and left Spaniards deeply and bitterly divided between supporters of conservatives in power at the time of the massacre and Socialists who accused the government of making Spain a target for al-Qaeda by supporting the Iraq war and sending in 1,300 peacekeepers.

The government of then-prime minister Jose Maria Aznar initially blamed Basque separatists for the bombings, even as evidence of Islamic involvement emerged.

This led to charges of a cover-up to deflect attention away from the government's support for the war, and in elections three days after the bombings the conservatives lost to the opposition Socialists, who quickly brought the Spanish troops home.

Today's news is not all bad, Canadian and US troops have 250 Taliban fighters surrounded. Read about it here.
They had the guy on a tape bragging about being the top dog,too. I guess the jury figured he was bragging w/o basis or something.

Anyway,concerning the Afghan deal. I sometimes think we want the Taliban to "seize" a town just for this purpose. Sort of places them in our concentrated firepower.

Dumb,dumb,and dumber. They aren't learning real fast,until NATO exits,they should just sit back and be cool. I felt this way about Iraq,too. If I led the Iraq insurgency,I would have played ball until most US forces were gone,organized all along and BAM! I'd have hit the untried Iraqi Army like Grant took Richmond.

These Muslims aren't good at patience. They have to do their thing now. That's a good thing for us. Here's a blurb on the Helmand Province situation:

They will surrender. Actually I really love it when they surrender.
Good article on this situation. One thing that concerns me is I think the Taliban has a really serious number of bodies out there. They almost over ran a British outpost last year.

I sure hope no one is operating out of real small FOBs,I have a bad feeling about Aghanistan,real bad feeling. There is some reason to believe the global jihadi is beginning to concentrate on this area again as opposed to Iraq.

The people of Iraq are over the jihadis across the board,but Afghanistan is so weird and there are so many cross currents of ethnicity,drug cash,religion,etc I think Afghanistan might be more a magnet now than it was say 12 months ago. We're killing a fair amount of them,but there are a whole lot of idiots nearby.

Quote:The people of Iraq are over the jihadis across the board,but Afghanistan is so weird and there are so many cross currents of ethnicity,drug cash,religion,etc I think Afghanistan might be more a magnet now than it was say 12 months ago. We're killing a fair amount of them,but there are a whole lot of idiots nearby.

When Alex Da 'G' was trippin' his posse through Afghanistan he was mired in the terrain and the myriad of different factions aligning to fight him. He wrote back to his family, his momma and his main squeeze and all their girly friends, they all wrote back saying the same thing:

"Why are you lettin these punks play you? Why is it taking so long? Don't chew know your momma needs tea? It's just a tiny, empty little hood and you should've had it marked by now. Wuzzup wit dat?"

Alex was no fool. He sent his mother back an Afghan rug and a note:

"Get together with yer peeps and sit down on this rug, then keep it real-yo and discuss what you think Im doing wrong, and then write back".

So these upscale ho’s sat down on the rug all together like he asked.....His momma, his prime tomato and his sista's, and their sista's and they all started to talk about A.G.'s problem and what to do about it. But they couldn't. Something came over them when they all sat down together on the rug. They startded to bicker with each other, which they had never done before. They all understood and agreed that Alex was trippin' and shoulda tagged Afghan as his by now, but they could not agree on how. They bickered and bickered for weeks without leaving the rug, until A.G. sent back word that the war was over and he was moving on.

Just sayin

OK,that's one way to put it,another way is I already read parts of "The Afghan Campaign" by renowned author Steven Pressfield.

Change the names and it sounds like 2007 NATO with swords and the phalanx.
Ahk, you've lost me with that. :?
Quote:Ahk, you've lost me with that.

Yeah it was a little ham-fisted, maybe even off topic.

I was trying to make a point about Afghan culture and it's resistance to central authority. Maybe that a large majority of Afghans will tell you quite sincerely they are all for this change and even the dirt farmers can recognize that over the last century this time has come for more central Afghanistan (if even for their mutual security), but they will also tell you sincerely that the direction they must follow for them and their families is towards whoever will be running Afghanistan in 20 years. That to me is the Afghan 'moderate'; neither a friend to NATO or the Taliban. There is an obvious disconnection here when the West looks at Afghanistan in terms of 'how little time can we spend'.

The resistance to the central authority concept is a little unique in that it is quasi-tribal, but also because it is a threat to the current power brokers who are historically who run it (sorta).

To me these are the important details these days. 'Forget' about the Taliban a little and start concentrating on the people.