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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Would-be ship bomber purports to have an important secret life

When last we heard of this wannabe speedboat terrorist, the Turks had nabbed him before he could take on some Israeli cruise ships off Antalya, Turkey. Now, it seems, there may be more to him than we knew, as reported by Captain's Quarters:
Sakra lived in the German town of Schramberg from September 2000 to July 2001, during the period when the Hamburg cell actively supported Mohammed Atta and the primary leaders of the attack plot. By July 2001, when he left, most of the heavy lifting had been done by those abroad, and the rest of the attack preparation took place in the United States. Sakra would have moved on to a new assignment at that time.

However, according to Sakra, he had plenty of connections to other agencies other than al-Qaeda. He claims to have tipped off the Syrians about the 9/11 attacks, who waited until afterwards to notify the Americans of the tip. The tip, according to DS, accurately predicted that the AQ operation would use commercial aircraft as missiles against buildings in the US. The Turkish media also claim that the CIA made contact with Sakra twice in 2000 but were unable to turn him despite offering Sakra large sums of money. They turned to the Turkish intelligence group MIT, who could not track him down until August 2001, four weeks before the 9/11 attacks -- but released him, apparently without coordinating with the CIA.
Captain Ed suggests caution in deciding whether or not to accept his story. When captured he did have bunch of explosives and a speed boat, so...he had some sort of secret life going on...

But I wonder where his "friends" are that he spoke about here:
Police said Sakra is also suspected as a go-between for al-Qaida and Turkish extremists responsible for the 2003 bombings of two synagogues, the British Consulate and a British bank. The bombings killed some 60 people. He also is suspected of having helped the bombing masterminds flee the country...

...“I have no regrets,” Sakra shouted to journalists from a window after he was led into the courthouse.“I was going to attack Israeli ships. If they come, my friends will attack them.”

“I had prepared a ton of explosives,” he added in a barely audible voice.

He also shouted “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” before officials pulled him back and closed the window. He spoke in Turkish with an Arabic accent.

A police official said Sakra was planning to attack Israeli cruise ships with speedboats packed with explosives. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because only top officials are allowed to speak on the record without prior authorization.

Police suspect Sakra was still in contact with al-Qaida operatives planning future attacks.

As Sakra left the courthouse, he shouted: “I was planning an attack in open seas. Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar.”

Another defense lawyer, Osman Karahan, said authorities caught his client with 1,650 pounds of explosives.

“He was planning to hit Israeli ships in international waters with these explosives,” CNN-Turk quoted Karahan as saying.
According to this, 16 other people allegedly involved in the cruise ship plot were arrested at the same time as Sakra. The same article publishes some more of his allegations of what a wheel he was with al Aqaeda:
The Syrian, whom the Turkish authorities suspect was among those behind the November 2003 terrorist attacks on Istanbul that killed 61 and injured over 600 people, was arrested in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, last week. Simultaneously, a total of 16 people were arrested in the country who are believed to have plotted, under Sakra's command, to blow up a cruise liner in Antalya with Israeli tourists on board.

The suspects had prepared about a ton of explosives for the attack...

...Sakra said he had sent dozens of people to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States, Britain, Egypt, Syria, and Algeria.

He also confessed he had fought against U.S. troops in Falluja, Iraq, along with Abu Musab al-Zargaw, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Sakra said they had held 10 Americans in Falluja whom he had killed "with his own hands."
I guess we will find out someday if he was such a player or just a lying nut job with some explosives and 16 friends...

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