Terrorism | 11.10.2007
The main Lebanese suspect accused of plotting to blow up two trains in Germany in July 2006 appeared Thursday in court in Beirut and was questioned by a Lebanese judge, judicial sources said.
During the questioning, Jihad Hamad admitted that he and Youssef al-Haj Dib, who is currently in custody in Germany, bought two gas canisters, wires and two bags to put them on the trains to protest caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed originally published in a Danish newspaper.
The two suspected terrorists had placed two suitcases containing bombs on the trains.
Had there not been errors in the bombs' construction, German investigators said the explosions near the cities of Hamm and Koblenz would have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people, putting the plot on a much larger scale than the terrorist attacks on London in July 2005.
Hamad denied that he followed any "Muslim fundamentalist group or jihadist group." He also denied any links with the Sunni Muslim fundamentalist group al Qaeda which is led by Osama bin Laden.
Judge Helena Iskander decided to issue a warrant to the Lebanese police to look into reports that Saddam al-Haj Dib, brother of Youssef, and also a suspect in the plot, was killed during the 15-week battle between militants from the Fatah al-Islam group and the Lebanese Army in northern Lebanon.
The judge also questioned three Lebanese citizens who were arrested with Hamad: Khaled al-Haj Dib, Ayman Hadad and Khalil al-Bobo.
Khaled al-Haj Dib said that his connection with Hamad went back to university and he denied any links to the German bombing plot.
Hadad said he met Hamad in Tripoli, and denied that he had any knowledge of the bombing plot or belonged to any Islamic movement.
Al-Bobo also denied his links with the German bombing plot, but said he met Saddam al-Haj Dib through a common friend called Osama al-Shahabi, who usually sent Muslims to fight in Iraq. "At the time I was impressed with the way al-Haj Dib thinks -- his jihadist thinking -- and we exchanged telephone numbers," al-Bobo told the judge.
He was arrested and put in a Lebanese jail because he threw a bomb at a Lebanese Army checkpoint in the north of the country.
The four suspects hail from areas in northern Lebanon where Sunni fundamentalist movements have been flourishing for the past few years.
Hamad's father Shahid, who was present during the court session, told German press agency DPA that his son was a student and not a fundamentalist and that he sent his son to a Christian school in Tripoli, not an Islamic extremist one.
Shahid said he decided to send his son to Germany for the better education and job opportunities that were available there.
Jihad Hamad turned up at his parents' house in Tripoli shortly after the attempted bombings.
Jihad, who had been taking German language classes for six months in Germany, explained his sudden appearance by saying that he was worried about his parents because of the July 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon's Hezbollah movement at the time.
Jihad has given a partial confession to Lebanese authorities, saying that he deposited a piece of luggage in one of the trains but was not aware of its contents. He has also told investigators that he and al-Haj Dib researched bomb-making methods on the Internet that could have increased the victims' suffering in the planned attacks.
The German police have said that the publication of the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in German newspapers may have prompted Jihad Hamad and Youssef al-Haj Dib to devise their plot.
Lebanese Chief Public Prosecutor Said Mirza has accused Jihad Hamad of organizing and attempting mass murder. Should he be convicted, he faces life-long imprisonment and forced labor.
The trial was adjourned until November 26.
Source: Deutsche Welle @ dw-world.de
Picture: The gas-based bombs would have killed hundreds
Click to view image: '106845-02139795400.jpg'
In: Iraq, News
Tags: Terrorism, Germany, Lebanon, Beirut, Jihad Hamad, Youssef al-Haj Dib, gas canister, caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, Danish newspaper, Hamm, Koblenz, terrorist attack, London, Muslim fundamentalist, jihadist group, Sunni, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, He
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