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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Turkish trial of would-be ship bomber halted by his "protest"

The trial of Syrian would-be cruise ship bomber Loa'i Mohammad Haj Bakr al-Saqa gets a slight interruption, as reported here when Saqa tried to stage a protest of sorts:
A judge barred a Syrian al-Qaeda suspect from a courtroom on Monday because he wore an orange jumpsuit, in an apparent protest of the treatment of detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Police said Loa'i Mohammad Haj Bakr al-Saqa, accused of masterminding the deadly 2003 bombings in Istanbul, had been wearing normal clothes when he left for the courtroom but then removed them while on the way in the prison van. He wore a thick beard and shouted "Allahu Akbar!" -- Arabic for "God is great!" -- as he was escorted by Turkish military police to the courthouse.

Turkey has no prison uniforms, so prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothes. Police said they did not know how al-Saqa had brought the special clothing, which was a yellowish-orange approximation of the color of prisoners' jumpsuits at Guantanamo.

Al-Saqa was arrested in the southern port city of Antalya in August after explosives accidentally went off in a building he was using as a safe house, forcing him to flee, authorities say.

His lawyer, Levent Do─čus, said Monday that al-Saqa had led militants to fight Americans in Iraq, but never planned any attacks in Turkey.

The explosives in Antalya were meant for an attack on an Israeli cruise ship on the high seas, Dogus said. Turkish officials say al-Saqa planned to blow up Israeli cruise ships in the Mediterranean. He has been charged with trying to overthrow Turkey's secular government.

Prosecutors claim that Osama bin Laden personally ordered al-Saqa, 32, to carry out terrorist attacks in this predominantly Muslim and pro-Western country.

He is accused of serving as a point man between al-Qaeda and homegrown militants behind the November 2003 bombings, which destroyed a British bank, the British Consulate and two synagogues, an indictment said. It said al-Saqa gave the Turkish militants about $170,000.

Prosecutors have demanded life in prison for al-Saqa, calling him "a high-level al-Qaeda official with a special mission."

Al-Saqa's lawyer on Monday said his client was imprisoned for his enmity against the United States and his actions in Iraq, and requested that he be considered a prisoner of war.
Nice defense work. More on Saqa here and at links therein.

By way of background from an August 10, 2005 ONI report:
TURKEY: On 11 Aug, Turkish courts charged a suspected terrorist with plotting to use a speedboat packed with explosives to attack Israeli cruise ships. Reports quote the suspected terrorist, a Syrian national, as saying “I wanted to attack Israeli cruise ships in the open seas without harming Turkish civilians. I have no regrets.” On 05 Aug, Israel’s transport ministry diverted four Israeli cruise ships bound for Alanya, Turkey, after Turkish Police discovered the alleged plot while investigating a suspicious apartment fire. The apartment fire,
located in Antalya, Turkey, aroused suspicions after a sharp smell of chemicals began spreading in the vicinity of the fire. Police said they found incriminating evidence, including the suspect’s passport. As a result of the recent Turkish anti-terror efforts, the Israeli Counter Terrorism Bureau downgraded its Turkey terror warning (LM, FP, REUTERS).
I wonder what part of his attack on Israel and America the setting fire to his neighborhood was?

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