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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Syrian is named as mastermind of Madrid attacks

MADRID A Syrian jailed since 2001 and thought to be a major operative for Al Qaeda was identified as the prime mover behind the March 11 terror attacks in Madrid, a high-ranking intelligence official has told the Spanish Parliament.
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While Spanish officials have named several different men as possible masterminds over the past few months, the remarks Monday about the Syrian, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, represent the clearest statement of responsibility yet made by a senior investigator.
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"It is very clear to me," the investigator, Rafael Gómez Menor, said, "that if by mastermind we mean the person who has put the group together, prepared the group, trained it ideologically, sent them to Afghanistan to be prepared militarily for terrorism, that man is Abu Dahdah, without any doubt."
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Yarkas was sent to prison in November 2001 by Judge Baltasar Garzón, who has been investigating the Qaeda presence in Spain since the mid-1990s.
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In an indictment filed in September 2003, Garzón said that since 1995, Yarkas had been responsible for recruiting members, indoctrinating them with an extremist ideology and sending many of them to Afghanistan for training at Qaeda camps.
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In his comments Monday to a commission looking into the attacks, Gómez Menor did not say that Yarkas had planned the Madrid attacks from his prison cell. Instead, he suggested that Yarkas had set the stage for them before his arrest.