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Al-Qaida Suspect Freed in Spain

September 25, 2002

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MADRID, Spain (AP) _ An al-Qaida suspect who shot videotapes of U.S. landmarks that were believed to have been used to prepare the Sept. 11 attacks has been freed on bail, a defense lawyer’s firm said.

Spain’s top terrorism judge, Baltasar Garzon, set bail of $146,550 each for Mohamen Khair al-Saqq and two other Syrian-born al-Qaida suspects, the law firm said Tuesday.

Al-Saqq left jail, while the other two suspects, Ghasoub Al-Abrash Ghalyoun and Abdalrahman Alarnaot Abu-Aljer, remained, though they were expected to post bail in the coming days, said the law firm of Luis Rodriguez Ramos.

Police have said that Ghalyoun traveled to the United States in 1997 and shot at least five videotapes showing the Golden Gate bridge, the Sears Tower, the World Trade Center and other famous sites. The videos show too much detail to have been meant as souvenirs, police say.

Police believe al-Saqq passed the videos on to al-Qaida’s leadership in Afghanistan because he was visited by a courier from Osama bin Laden several months after Ghalyoun’s trip.

The suspects, detained last July, have been ordered to report to judicial authorities every 15 days and may not travel outside the country. Their passports remain in possession of the court, although border controls between Spain its European Union neighbors no longer exist.

Spanish magistrates are required to release suspects after most of the relevant evidence has been collected and there is no reasonable suspicion they might jump bail or commit offenses.

El Mundo newspaper reported that Garzon set bail Monday because he had been unable to prove that the videos or copies had actually been seen by al-Qaida’s leaders.

National Court officials refused to comment on the case.

Ghalyoun was first arrested in April on charges of forming part of a network of businesses that sent profits to al-Qaida organizations. But he was let go due to insufficient evidence.

A fourth suspect detained in July, Kamal Hadid Chaar, remains in custody.

Also jailed is Imad Yarkas _ alleged to have been bin Laden’s point main in Spain and to have known about plans for the Sept. 11 attacks _ along with seven suspected members of his al-Qaida cell.

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