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Cablegate: Spain: National Court Convicts Twenty For

VZCZCXRO1758
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMD #0234 0601903
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291903Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4375
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 3343
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS MADRID 000234

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR S/CT AND EUR/WE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL PGOV SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN: NATIONAL COURT CONVICTS TWENTY FOR
ASSOCIATION WITH A TERRORIST GROUP


1. (U) The Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) on
February 27 convicted 20 of 30 suspected Islamist terrorists
who were arrested in October 2004 (during Spain's so-called
Operation Nova investigation) on charges of membership in a
terrorist organization and plotting to destroy the National
Court. The Court convicted 18 individuals for membership in
a terrorist organization and two others for collaborating
with a terrorist organization. However, the Court did not
find sufficient evidence to convict on charges of plotting to
destroy the National Court with a truck bomb. The sentences
ranged from five to 14 years in prison, and the longest was
handed down to Abdurrahmen Tahiri, also known as Mohamed
Achraf, whom the tribunal believed to be the group's leader.
The decision found that Tahiri was obsessed with the idea of
parking a truck loaded with explosives next to the National
Court, but there was no evidence indicating that he had
communicated this plan to other members of the terrorist
group. Aside from Tahiri, the principal convicted terrorists
are, as written in Spanish: Addila Mimon (11 years),
Abdelkrim Bensmai, Said Afif, Hoari Jera and Mohamed Boukiri
(10 years each).

2. (SBU) COMMENT: The prominence and importance in Spain of
the Operation Nova trial was second only to the process to
try those suspected in the Madrid train bombings of March 11,
2004. In the wake of the verdicts, some Spanish media
criticized the inability of the National Court to find enough
evidence to convict on charges of attempting to blow up the
National Court, and some have alleged incompetence on the
part of Spanish law enforcement and the investigative
magistrates. We believe rather that Spanish authorities may
have been understandably over-sensitive to Islamic terror
threats just months after the March 11 bombings, and may have
therefore built a case on shaky foundations. Although the
Court did not find evidence of a specific plot against it,
the decision clearly states that the convicted individuals
formed part of a "cohesive, structured, stable, and permanent
group under the leadership of Tahiri whose end goal was
Jihad." Spanish law enforcement and its judiciary remain
committed to fighting Islamic extremist terrorism and this
decision was another victory for the U.S. and its allies in
the ongoing battle against Islamic extremism.
AGUIRRE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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