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AL-Qaida Operative Nailed: Syrian Had Inside Knowledge of 9/11 and London Bombings
Spiegel Online ^ | Holger Stark

Posted on 08/24/2005 7:17:10 AM PDT by jmc1969

Two weeks ago, Turkish police arrested an Islamist with ties to many upper tier al-Qaida members. The man not only tried to get asylum in Germany, but claims to have known about the London bombings beforehand and to have helped the 9/11 pilots.

The Turkish interrogators in Istanbul's high-security prison wanted to be polite; they wanted to show respect for Islam. They offered their prisoner, an Islamist named Luai Sakra, 31, a chance to pray during a pause in questioning.

They'd done the same thing with earlier suspects. The move was supposed to establish trust.

But this prisoner reacted a bit differently. "I don't pray," Sakra answered politely, "and I like alcohol." When the baffled officials didn't want to believe him, he elaborated: "Especially whiskey and wine."

It wasn't the only surprise the Syrian-born suspect presented to investigators. Turkish anti-terror officials held the suspected al-Qaida member for four days. Just after his arrest two weeks ago, Sakra admitted to planning strikes against Israeli cruise ships; he hoarded 750 kilograms of explosives for the purpose. When some of those explosives went up in flames, in his Antalya apartment, he fled.

What Sakra told officials during his interrogation suggests a deep jihadist career. The Syrian, who knows weapons as well as he knows his whiskey and wine, has obviously played a far more important role in the terrorist underground than officials first suspected. According to his own testimony, he knew about the London bombings before they happened, and supported the pilots on 9/11.

"I was one of the people who knew the 9/11 perpetrators," Sakra reportedly said in passing during the interrogation, "and I knew the plans and times beforehand." He claims to have provided the pilots with passports and money.

These details, if true, close some gaps in the narrative of the worst terrorist assaults in history - and they raise a question which German investigators have wrestled with in past week: Did Sakra -- who lived from September 2000 to July 2001 with his wife and two small children as an asylum-seeker in the southern town of Schramberg -- work with anyone else in Germany? Are there any unknown contacts still out there who know what he knows?

Western investigators accept Sakra's claims, by and large, since they coincide with known facts. On September 10, 2001, he tipped off the Syrian secret service -- which had chased him since 1999 for his role in a revolt in a Lebanon refugee camp -- that terrorist attacks were about to occur in the United States. The evidently well-informed al-Qaida insider even named buildings as targets, and airplanes as weapons. The Syrians passed on this information to the CIA -- but only after the attacks. Sakra owes his rise in al Qaida to the Palestinian Abu Subeida, a bin Laden confidant, now in custody, who ran a sort of recruiting office for new mujahideen in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. From Abu Subeida's testimony, the CIA knows that he and the young Syrian soon came to trust each other.

With help from his mentor in 1997, Sakra attended a military training camp in Khalden, where he drilled with about 80 other volunteers. They trained with Kalashnikov rifles and practiced using explosives, especially TNT and C4. In Khalden Sakra also met the German Christian K., a Muslim convert who later served as his translator when he was waiting for asylum in Schramberg. Christian K. married one of Sakra's sisters in Aleppo in 1998.

Abu Subeida sent the Syrian back and forth to Turkey, to help build new branches of his terror network. When bin Laden started a new camp for Syrians and Jordanians in 1999 in Herat, Afghanistan, he handed leadership responsibilities to five Arabs. One was Sakra; another was the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the current chief of al-Qaida in Iraq. The two of them quickly became friends.

Those years in Herat helped establish a still-growing terrorist network that's responsible for a large portion of attacks in the Near- and Middle East. During one of his interrogations, Sakra claimed to have fought personally for Zarqawi in Iraq, apparently in Fallujah, the rebel stronghold where American forces found a number of torture chambers after a raid in late 2004.

A video allegedly recorded in Fallujah played an important role for Turkish investigators: Sakra boasted to an Istanbul magistrate that he'd attended the execution of a kidnapped Turkish truck driver in Iraq.

The video shows the death of driver Murat Yüce in August 2004, at the hands of armed, masked fighters for Zarqawi. Sakra gave a running commentary with a slight smile and no remorse: "Look, now they'll cut off his head. Soon they'll take that pistol off the table, so the blood won't ruin it." And, like a ballistics expert: "Blood wrecks the insides of a pistol."

This cold-bloodedness - mixed with moments of high emotion -- may be related to Sakra's shaky mental health. He comes from a well-to-do family; but officials who arrested him at an airport in Diyarkbakir found not just phony papers under the name "Ekrem Oeyer," along with $120,000 in cash, but also a bottle of psychopharmaceuticals and antidepressants. Officers of the CIA and the Turkish intelligence services (MIT) who took part in this operation thought it was strange that such a hot-tempered mujahid, in custody, could sometimes act so extroverted, while at other times become so apathetic.

The man's mental condition, his precisely-timed arrest shortly before an attack, and his statements in the meantime have provoked speculation that Sakra was in contact with several secret-service agencies for years. Turkish media reported that the CIA had contacted him twice in 2000, and tried to tempt him with money, apparently very large sums. Then the CIA lost his trail and turned to the Turkish MIT for help.

Sakra's attorney, Ilhani Sayan, who believes some of Sakra's statements but not others, claims that in August 2001 - four weeks before the assaults in America - the MIT picked up their man, but let him go. Sakra himself says he was arrested twice by the MIT but freed again, both times. In 2003, his wife was also supposedly detained and interrogated for 20 days.

Sakra's family lived in Turkey from 1960 on, but then emigrated to Syria, and subsequent financial strain may have been a reason for the fanatical Islamist to cooperate (at least sometimes) with officials.

But Sakra never became the high-value al-Qaida informant which the CIA so desperately needs; and in the meantime the various intelligence agencies realized that any hope of controlling Sakra was just a deadly dream.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: 091001; 09102001; 1960s; 1997; 1999; 2000; 200009; 200108; 20010910; 2005; 200508; 911; abumusabalzarqawi; abumusabzarqawi; abusubeida; abuzubaida; abuzubaidah; abuzubayda; abuzubaydah; aleppo; alqaeda; alqaida; alsukami; altaqwa; altaqwabank; alzarqawi; ansaralislam; antalya; c4; christiank; cia; cruiseship; cruiseshipplot; cruiseships; decapitation; ekremoeyer; falluja; fallujah; germany; herat; iraq; isis; khalden; khaldencamp; khaldentrainingcamp; louiasakka; louiasakra; luaisakra; maritimesecurity; muratyuce; oeyer; peshawar; refugees; sakka; sakra; schramberg; speedboat; speedboatattack; subeida; sukami; syria; syria911; syrian; syrianrefugees; theunitarians; tnt; truckdriver; turkey; unitarians; yuce; zarqawi; zubayda; zubaydah; zubeida

1 posted on 08/24/2005 7:17:12 AM PDT by jmc1969
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To: jmc1969

I suppose breaking his kneecaps is against the Geneva Convention... .


2 posted on 08/24/2005 7:24:41 AM PDT by peacebaby (Folks around me are crazy. Mercury MUST be in retrograde.)
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To: peacebaby

Just read a man was fried in Texas yesterday so what's WRONG with breaking a couple of kneecaps?


3 posted on 08/24/2005 8:23:48 AM PDT by funkywbr
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To: funkywbr

Well, in America we have the death penalty. But at Club Gitmo and elsewhere, they prefer hot rock massages to interrogation.

I personally don't have a problem with breaking the kneecaps of some Islamic terrorist who aided the 9/11 attacks. Or panties on the head, for that matter.


4 posted on 08/24/2005 8:28:17 AM PDT by peacebaby (Folks around me are crazy. Mercury MUST be in retrograde.)
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To: peacebaby
Or panties on the head, for that matter.

Gosh you're a monster!

5 posted on 08/24/2005 8:30:42 AM PDT by numberonepal (Don't Even Think About Treading On Me)
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To: numberonepal

Did you see "Raising Arizona?"

Nicholas Cage has a stocking on his head because he's going to rob a store. And the proprietor says: Sir, you've got a panty on your head.

LOL>


6 posted on 08/24/2005 8:32:48 AM PDT by peacebaby (Folks around me are crazy. Mercury MUST be in retrograde.)
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To: peacebaby
Did you see "Raising Arizona?" <>p>It's one of my all time favorite movies. And it was the hayseed in the pickup H.I. highjacked that said, "Son, you've got a panty on your head."
7 posted on 08/24/2005 8:55:06 AM PDT by numberonepal (Don't Even Think About Treading On Me)
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To: numberonepal

Yeah, that's right. Great movie. The warthog from Hell.


8 posted on 08/24/2005 9:00:31 AM PDT by peacebaby (Folks around me are crazy. Mercury MUST be in retrograde.)
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To: numberonepal

They could be used ones from a 300 jogger.


9 posted on 08/24/2005 10:27:09 AM PDT by funkywbr
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To: peacebaby

You'll have to re-take the class. After first connecting him to an air compressor and inflating him a bit, one suspends the excremist on a meat hook by a rib, and makes him swinging like a pendulum over a small fire...


10 posted on 08/24/2005 11:44:28 AM PDT by GSlob
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To: GSlob

there's a song in there somewhere...

swing like a pendulum do...


11 posted on 08/24/2005 11:57:29 AM PDT by peacebaby (Folks around me are crazy. Mercury MUST be in retrograde.)
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To: All

So he likes whiskey and wine. There's not going to be much of that in the event that Islam seizes world power. Makes you wonder what kind of logic these guys have (if any). May be they can hook him on heroin, to loosen his tongue.


12 posted on 08/25/2005 12:06:09 AM PDT by Bazooka (Just say what you think. They hate our guts anyway.)
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To: numberonepal
Gosh you're a monster!

Heck, I'd put Hillary or Barney Frank's panties on them!

13 posted on 08/25/2005 7:07:41 AM PDT by ravingnutter
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To: peacebaby

"Raising Arizona" is one the funniest movies I have ever seen. Holly Hunter was terrific in it, too. IIRC, the Coen brothers did it.


14 posted on 08/25/2005 7:13:37 AM PDT by newfreep
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To: jmc1969

SYRIA bump


15 posted on 09/30/2015 10:34:45 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge)
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To: jmc1969

bump


16 posted on 12/21/2015 7:59:01 PM PST by piasa
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