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Cable sobre las claves del terrorismo en España

La embajada en Madrid explica a Washington las amenazas islamistas y especulaciones del PP y un periódico sobre la hipótesis de ETA y el 11-M

Date:2006-10-20 12:58:00
Source:Embassy Madrid
Dunno:06MADRID1799 06MADRID1914 06MADRID2374
DE RUEHMD #2657/01 2931258
O 201258Z OCT 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 002657



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/19/2016

B. MADRID 1799
C. MADRID 2374

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Classified By: A/DCM Kathleen Fitzpatrick for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

1. (C) Summary: In advance of the October 24 visit to Madrid
of US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Post presents a
brief update on several of the most important pending or
recently completed terrorism or criminal cases in the Spanish
judicial system. Spain has made great strides in disrupting
terrorist cells and frustrating would-be terrorist plots and
we remain pleased with Spain's counter-terrorism cooperation.
However, its national prosecutors continue to have
difficulty building cases that can stand up in the courts and
recent Spanish Supreme and national court decisions freeing
alleged Al-Qaeda suspects are an important factor to consider
as we pursue improved judicial cooperation with Spain. End

High-profile Al-Qaeda Suspects

2. (SBU) Spain's National Court on October 11 acquitted
Lahcen Ikassrien after finding insufficient evidence that he
was a member of either Al-Qaeda or of the Abu Dahdah terror
cell in Spain, or that he fought alongside the Taliban in
Afghanistan. Ikassrien is a Moroccan national and former
Guantanamo detainee transferred to Spanish custody in July
2005. The court refused to admit any prosecution evidence
that was obtained during his detention in Guantanamo or any
information gleaned from intercepted phone calls in Spain.
Post advised in Reftel A that this might occur, due to the
unfortunate similarities the Ikassrien case had with that of
accused terrorist Hamed Abderrahaman Ahmed, known in the
media as the "Spanish Taliban." As reported in Reftel A, the
Spanish Supreme Court announced on July 24 that it had
annulled the six-year prison sentence handed down to
Abderrahaman in September 2005 by Spain's national court.
The court found that Spanish prosecutors could not use any
evidence collected during their interrogation of Abderrahaman
while he was being held at Guantanamo under conditions the
court termed, "impossible to explain, much less justify."
The Spanish prosecutor in the Ikassrien case had sought an
eight-year jail sentence for the accused and tried
unsuccessfully to build a case against Ikassrien that
excluded evidence obtained in Guantanamo, noting publicly
that Spanish authorities had obtained more than enough
evidence of Ikassrien's membership in the Abu Dahdah terror
cell prior to his stay in Guantanamo. It is unclear whether
Ikassrien can be tried on any other terror-related charges.

3. (SBU) In a separate case, Spanish authorities on October
3 released Taysir Alony, who in September 2005 was sentenced
to seven years in prison for membership in Al-Qaeda, for
humanitarian reasons stemming from a serious heart problem.
The Spanish Ministry of Interior is forcing Alony to wear a
locator bracelet and monitoring his activities.

CIA Flights and Prisons

4. (SBU) Despite President's Bush recent announcement that
there are no longer any terrorist suspects held in "secret
prisons," this issue continues to dominate press headlines in
Spain. On the front page of its October 15 edition, leading
Spanish daily El Pais reported that the founder of Al-Qaeda
in Spain has been in a "secret CIA prison" for a year.
Sensational headlines in the Spanish press continue to claim
that Syrian-born Spanish national named Mustafa Setmarian was
turned over to the US by Pakistan authorities at the end of
2005. The press reporting claims that Setmarian sowed the
seeds of Jihad in Spain during the 1980s, but that the
Spanish national court cannot request his extradition because
he has not been officially arrested.

5. (SBU) Along similar lines, and as we reported in REFTELS
B and C, the CIA flights inquiry remains a hot discussion
topic in Spain. On October 9, German national Khaled
al-Masri testified for three hours in a Spanish national
court and claimed that he was kidnapped and tortured by CIA
officers during five months in 2004. He said he was taken
from Macedonia to Kabul on a flight that he believed could
have stopped in Palma de Mallorca. Al-Masri said he would
not be able to identify any members of the crew on board the
flight from Macedonia, but he would be able to recognize some
of those who interrogated him in Kabul. As noted in Reftel
C, post continues to be concerned that Judge Moreno, the

MADRID 00002657 002.2 OF 003

Spanish judge involved in this case, as part of Spain's
highly independent judiciary, may determine that Spanish law
allows him to claim "universal jurisdiction" on cases
involving alleged torture and abuse. Such a determination
may provide him the authority to adjudicate events that
transpired in a third country if it is proven that related
events occurred in Spain. Spanish government officials,
including President Zapatero, continue to maintain their firm
public stance that the flights did not violate any Spanish
laws. However, Foreign Minister Moratinos expressed concern
in front of the EU Parliament last month that, "our territory
could have been used not to commit any offense, but as a
stop-over to commit them in other countries." Moratinos has
also urged the European Union to more vigorously investigate
the presence of secret CIA prisons in other European
countries. Spanish press reports that Judge Moreno in the
near future will allow the national prosecutor to call other
witnesses, including the airport authorities of Palma de
Mallorca and the aircraft handling services.

Madrid Train Bombings

6. (C) Despite the passage of more than two and a half years
since the Madrid train bombings occurred on March 11, 2004,
and the near universal acceptance by the Spanish public and
terrorism experts that they were perpetrated by Al-Qaeda
sympathizers with the goal to punish Spain for its
participation in the Iraq War, a segment of the opposition
Popular Party (PP) and the newspaper El Mundo continue to
allege a Socialist party conspiracy and cover up and claim
that the Basque terrorist group ETA had some link with the
March 11 attacks. The highly-charged political clash over
the Madrid bombing investigation has heightened the climate
of bad blood between the opposition PP and the ruling
Socialist government and has greatly hindered the pace of the
government's prosecution of the attacks. Spain is currently
holding 29 individuals for their alleged connection to the
bombings and prosecutors plan to charge these individuals
with 191 counts of murder and 1,755 counts of attempted
murder. The Spanish National Court has recently rejected
various appeals from the accused and said that the trials,
scheduled to begin in February 2007, may proceed. The
National court in late September asked the Spanish Ministry
of Justice to send an extradition request to Italy to bring
Rabei Osman el-Sayed, known as "Muhammad the Egyptian,"
temporarily to Spain to face trial in connection with the
Madrid bombings.

The Detergent Command

7. (SBU) In a separate case pending before Spanish courts,
the national prosecutor will seek a total of 142 years in
prison for six Islamists arrested in January 2003 in
Barcelona and Girona. These individuals are known in the
press as "The Detergent Command," due to their possession of
large quantities of detergents that police believe were to
serve as ingredients for explosive devices. According to the
prosecutor, these individuals were preparing a terrorist
attack against a military base in the south of Spain, which
may have been the base at Rota that the US shares with the
Spanish navy and air force. The prosecutor will seek 32
years for Muhammad Tahraoui, alleged leader of the Detergent
Command, and 22 years each for his alleged accomplices,
Muhammad Amine BenaMoura, Ali Kaouka, Ismail Boudjelthia,
Muhammad Nebbar and Sohuil Kouka.

The Couso Case

8. (SBU) Although not related to terrorism, the case of Jose
Couso--the Spanish television cameraman killed in Baghdad in
April 2003 during a firefight between US forces and Saddam's
army--may return to national prominence after a British
inquest earlier this month implicated US soldiers in the
death of a British journalist in southern Iraq in March 2003.
Couso's death sparked protests in a country that was
vehemently against the Iraq invasion and friends and
relatives of Couso have tried for years to bring a wrongful
death case against the US soldiers of the Third Infantry
Division involved in the firefight. The Spanish national
court in March 2006 claimed it had no jurisdiction and
refused to hear the case, but Couso supporters appealed to
the Spanish Supreme Court the following month and we are
still awaiting the high court's ruling. Although we have yet
to see any Spanish reaction to the findings of the British

MADRID 00002657 003.2 OF 003

inquest, there is a possibility that Couso's family and their
supporters will increase pressure on the Spanish Supreme
Court to allow charges to be brought against the US soldiers.

9. (C) Comment: Spain is a serious and committed partner in
our global war on terror and we remain pleased with the
efforts of Spanish law enforcement, intelligence and judicial
organizations to combat the Islamic extremist threat.
However, Spanish police, prosecutors, and magistrates
building legal cases against disparate and amorphous terror
cells are struggling to develop evidence sufficient enough to
meet the high threshold set by the Spanish courts. Spain has
a highly independent judiciary that carefully guards this
independence (a major achievement of the post-Franco era),
and this is an important factor to consider as we pursue
increased judicial cooperation with Spain in terrorism cases.
Nonetheless, some of the recent Supreme and national court
decisions can clearly be seen as a criticism of US detainee
policies in Guantanamo that are highly unpopular among the
Spanish. Embassy Madrid looks forward to using next week's
visit of Attorney General Gonzalez and his delegation to
engage Spanish government officials on a range of important
legal and judicial issues to encourage them to take an even
more active role in the fight against global terrorism.
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