Friday, March 18, 2005

WHAT DID THEY KNOW, and when did they know it? Just when the Socialist party and its allies are voting for the end of the parliamentary commission investigating the March 11 terrorist attacks in Madrid, and for not taking any more evidence nor seeing any new witnesses, this piece of information is reverberating:
Fernando Huarte Santamaría, a leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) in the northern city of Gijón, Asturias, contacted Algerian terrorist Benesmail Abdelkrim in the Villabona prison in 2001. Huarte even got Abdelkrim a furlough to go to the dentist and paid his bill; the two last met in October 2004. A few days later, the police arrested Abdelkrim and found the address of a well-known ETA terrorist in his pocket.

Abdelkrim served time with two other notorious prisoners, Spaniard Antonio Toro Castro and Moroccan Rafá Zouhier, two police informants accused in the March 11, 2004 bombings.

In April 1997 police first arrested Benesmail Adbelkrim, a member of the Armed Islamic Group (AIG), along with nine other terrorists including Allekema Lamari, one of the March 11 bombers who later committed suicide when surrounded by police in Leganés. Abdelkrim, considered Lamari's right-hand-man, spent four years in the Ocaña prison, where officials state that Abdelkrim and the ETA terrorists imprisoned there shared a strong comradeship; they say, "He was just like one of them."

In July 2001 Abdelkrim was transferred to Villabona, where he maintained good relations with the ETA terrorists serving time there. According to the newspaper El Mundo, Benesmail made friends with ETA member Juan María Igarataundi and ETA youth brigadist José Luis Camarero, who said about him, "He's a superserious guy. He's one of those guys who always carries a bomb whenever he goes out. He says we do some things wrong. According to him, you plant the bomb and don't call in a warning."

The Algerian terrorist was obsessed with news. He borrowed a TV from the ETA prisoners in order to watch the airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center on 9-11, and he discussed the press with the ETA prisoners. Officials said, "The newspaper Gara (pro-ETA) circulated through the cells. They called each other brothers." At this time Benesmail met Toro Castro and Zouhier, involved in the March 11 plot; Toro was looking for a buyer for the 150 kilos of dynamite he had possession of.
As expected, the Socialist party is stonewalling, and the PP is crying foul:
Álvaro Cuesta, Socialist spokesman on the March 11 parliamentary investigating commission, refused to call on Socialist (PSOE) leader Fernando Huarte to testify in order to explain his relationship with Benesmail Abdelkrim, number two in the ring that committed the March 11 bombings. The People's Party wants Huarte to testify about his Asturian mining business [...] The PP believes that there are connections between Álvaro Cuesta and Fernando Huarte, who visited Benesmail Abdelkrim several times in prison. PP spokesman Zaplana is to request data from the interior ministry on those connections and what Cuesta knows about Huarte's efforts in favor of jailed Islamist terrorists.

Despite the PP's requests, all the other parties want to close down the investigation and elaborate a series of conclusions. Although all the PP's efforts to bring new witnesses and documents before the commission have been rejected, the commission left a door open to "exceptional circumstances" which might provide new information. On Wednesday the PP, pointing to these revelations by Libertad Digital and the newspaper La Nueva España, demanded that the commission reopen in order to hear Fernando Huarte Santamaría's testimony.