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Spanish Daily Interviews Al-Qaeda Leader Abu Dahdah After Release From Prison
June 27, 2013


Report of interview with Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah, by Antonio Rubio; date and place not given: "`Muslim Lone Wolves Are Mentally Disturbed”

Abu Dahdah spoke exclusively after spending 12 years in prison as the head of Al-Qaeda in Spain. He was found guilty of recruiting young men for terrorist camps. With six children, he had made an appointment to apply for unemployment benefit.

His name is Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas. Judge Baltasar Garzon described him as the leader of Al-Qaeda in Spain and the contact in our country of the Hamburg cell that attacked the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11. The National High Court sentenced him to 27 years in prison for those reasons and the Supreme Court subsequently reduced the sentence to 12 years, arguing that the evidence obtained by the now former judge was not consistent. The Supreme Court did, however, consider it proven that Barakat Yarkas, better-known to those close to him as Abu Dahdah, controlled the Soldiers of Allah and that he had sent radicals to Al-Qaeda training camps.

Abu Dahdah was back on the street. He had served the 12-year sentence given to him; he said that he harbored no grudges against anyone, and rejected the recent attacks carried out by Islamist radicals in Boston, London, and Paris. He had also condemned, from prison, the 7 July 2005 London bombings and the 11 March 2004 train bombings in Madrid.

Imad Eddin, a Syrian-born Spanish national, said that he considered himself to be as Spanish as the next man: “My wife and my six children were born here; I live here, so nobody can believe that I wished to do any harm to this country.” He went on to define himself as “a man of faith, Muslim, religious”. In his view, he said “God comes first and then the other things that one might gain in life: family and certain people that have helped me.”

Abu Dahdah, who was quick and intelligent, got straight down to current affairs: “There are 1.5 billion Muslims and some of them act incorrectly in the name of Islam. When there is an abuse, they get worked up and do the wrong thing. What happened in Boston, London, or Paris is the product of people who are mentally disturbed. The Prophet is very clear and he says: Do not kill women, children, or grandparents. And innocent people died in Boston. The people harmed most by those events are Muslims themselves.”

Today, the intelligence services call those “mentally disturbed” individuals lone wolves and point to Syrian-born Spanish national Mustafa Setmarian as their main instigator. Abu Dahdah is a friend of Setmarian, better-known as Abu-Mus`ab al-Suri by his followers. Both men are originally from the Syrian city of Aleppo. “When I met Mustafa, his main enemy was not the West. His enemy was the Syrian regime -- firstly the figure of former President Hafez al-Asad and then his son, Bashar. After that came all the dictators and tyrants in the Muslim countries,” said the man who was sentenced as the leader of the Soldiers of Allah in Spain.

Abu Dahdah acknowledged his friendship with Abu-Mus`ab and also recalled that “Mustafa (Setmarian) was fighting in Afghanistan with the CIA against the Russians, over the unjust occupation of the country.”

The answer automatically prompted a question: Did Setmarian have a relationship with the CIA, or work for the US intelligence services? The answer tried to be evasive, or rather defensive: “Well, I do not know. The mujahedin had the 100-percent backing of the United States and they knew and were aware of their movements and who they were.”

Remember, the Supreme Court sentenced Abu Dahdah and considered it proven that he had sent radicals to Al-Qaeda training camps. In some of those, Setmarian gave classes and instruction. For the first time, the astute, quick, and intelligent Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas was uncomfortable and tried to escape, like a desert fox: “I do not known whether Setmarian worked for the CIA.A I can neither confirm nor deny it. I cannot say anything. I know nothing. I have not seen him for years and I cannot say what he is thinking or doing now. People change. My wife went to a convent school and when I married her she was a Christian; she was liberal, and worked with Pedro Almodovar. Now she is a covered (veiled) woman and a very practicing Muslim.”

Finally, Abu Dahdah ended up acknowledging that on the subject of Mustafa Setmarian`s arrest, subsequent handover to Syria, and release by Bashar al-Asad “there are very dark things that I do not understand.”

His friend Setmarian became a Spanish citizen in 1987, after marrying Elena Moreno. There are two National High Court arrest warrants out against him, one of them for the attack on El Descanso restaurant in Madrid in 1985.A He was detained in Pakistan in 2005, when he was considered to be Al-Qaeda`s number four. He was subsequently handed over to the United States and went missing for some time. In 2008, El Mundo revealed that Setmarian had arrived in Syria, after passing through Spain on one of the famous CIA flights. In April 2012, this newspaper once again disclosed that Setmarian and Abu Khalid, another Al-Qaeda leader, had been released by President Bashar al-Asad to show the United States that he was not going to tolerate external pressure. Today, Setmarian is considered to be the instigator of the lone wolves (he publishes his terrorist harangues in the magazine Inspire. In his last text, he urged people in Europe to carry out individual attacks.)

All the darkness that enshrouds the Setmarian case was also shifted by Abu Dahdah to his trial, to his sentence, which, in the first instance and according to the National High Court, had been 27 years and which the Supreme Court had reduced to 12.

Judge Garzon, as the examining magistrate, and Gomez Bermudez, as a member of the court that convicted him, were two references and obsessions for the person who had once been the leader of the Soldiers of Allah and who was an eminently religious man: “The men who convicted me were very unjust. They made me and my family suffer a great deal and as a believer I ask that they be punished on Judgment Day.” Allah Punishes Judges

Always from the viewpoint of his outlook and philosophy as a man of God, Abu Dahdah recalled the days that he had spent in prison and his prayers to Allah: “I have forgiven all those who convicted me, but every time that I prayed (Muslims pray five times a day), at the end of prayers I asked Allah to take note of what Judges Baltasar Garzon and Javier Gomez Bermudez had done. And I can say that Allah`s greatness has been proven and He has punished both of them with what could have hurt them most: their vanity.”

For the first time, a gesture of complicity appeared on the cheeks of the serious and religious man, a slight, brief smile: “One of them has been struck off. Baltasar Garzon is no longer a judge. And the other, Gomez Bermudez, has been demoted to examining magistrate. He can no longer pass sentence.” He went even further: “I admit that the day that I found out I laughed and I realized that Allah had not waited for Judgment Day and had given them the worse punishment that could befall them.”

When Abu Dahdah entered prison, in November 2001, he had four children. The fifth was born five months later. And the sixth “is the fruit of a private visit and thanks to God I have had a wonderful boy that is now nine years old,” said the husband and father. Out of almost 12 years that he spent behind bars, 10 of them were in isolation. In Castellon prison, following the trial in which he was convicted, he was assaulted and spent several days in a coma with multiple injuries: a broken nose, injuries to his mouth, and he almost lost an eye.

The believer and man of God decided not to file a formal complaint, because he did not know who had been responsible and maintained that “the prison guards behaved correctly. I used to speak to some of them and analyze the state of the world.” While recalling that analysis and those reflections, Abu Dahdah remembered what he used to say to his guards: “The Arab spring is the greatest thing to have happened in recent years. The West`s decision to support the movements against Muslim dictators will serve to eradicate the hatred that existed against them -- the United States and Europe --, because previously they had been supporting regimes of tyrants and that only spawned radicalism.” The follower of Allah said: “The West has taken the right path and in that way terrorism can disappear and will disappear. President Obama has done very well, although his reaction was a little late.” A

Abu Dahdah also had words of praise for Spanish Foreign Minister Juan Manuel Garcia Margallo, because he had criticized and raised his voice against Syria and expelled Colonel Manah Dora, better-known as Abu Michel, who was the colonel that the Mukhabarat (Syrian intelligence service) had sent to the embassy in Madrid to photograph and put pressure on the opponents of Al-Asad`s regime in our country.

When Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas spoke about Syria, about his native Aleppo, he became emotional and overcome with nostalgia for the day in 1985 when he left his homeland, arrived in Spain, and wanted to end up in France to study medicine: “Syria needs an immediate change. In Syria, Christians, Muslims, and Jews have lived side by side for generations without any type of problem. My Aleppo has the biggest percentage of Christian Arabs and we have always lived like brothers.”

He also recalled the major role that Syria had played in the Middle East: “Before, the Americans and the Syrians were friends. Syria became the hottest spot on earth. It dominated and made things happen in the Middle East; it borders Israel, and it controlled all the dark points of that zone.” Abu Dahdah went even further: “Syria was one of the countries that most benefited from the invasion of Iraq.”

Nor did he forget Spain and himself: “I was arrested and they staged the farce to justify Spain`s support for the invasion of Iraq and justify the business ventures that certain Spanish companies subsequently set up in Iraqi territory, and that demonstrates that the issue, or confrontation, that exists with the West is not religious, it is eminently economic and linked to other interests.”

The devout Muslim returned to the present and faced the future and that of his family: “I have renewed by identity card, which had run out, and I now have an appointment to claim unemployment benefits. I will be just one more among the 6.2 million unemployed in Spain.”

Abu Dahdah said the he had forgiven, but that he had not forgotten the moments and situations that his family had gone through during the time that he had spent in prison: “There were days when my wife did not have enough money to even buy milk for the children. My children, my family, survived thanks to the help that my wife received from her family and friends and some Christians who realized that it had all been a set-up by the authorities and certain media outlets.”

Baltasar Garzon came back to him, once again: “I remember the day that Garzon took around a`

8,000 ($10,400) from my house and I said to him: “Your honor, that is my children`s bread.” He told me not to worry, that he would bear it in mind. Today, 12 years later and with no job, I still cannot recover what is mine and which would come in very handy now to begin to tackle the needs of my family.”

A few days ago, a hoax went around about Barakat Yarkas`s eldest son. They said that he had sat the tests to join the Civil Guard and that he had failed. His father said: “No, my son did not try to join the Civil Guard. He was working for a security company for about six months, but that was all.”

He went on to offer a series of reflections, requests, and thanks: “Those who they call lone wolves are mentally disturbed people who harm and do damage to Muslims and, what is more, they project their own frustrations onto politics. Islam is very precise: You cannot do harm to anyone who is innocent. I do not consider myself to be guilty of anything. And if I had done anything, I have paid for it with the years that I spent in jail. I harbor nobody any grudges and I just want to have some closure to it all.”

Among those to who he expressed his gratitude was Jacobo Teijelo, his lawyer: “Thank God that I had a great lawyer. During and after the trial, all those who were sat in the dock with me told me that if it had not been for him we would still be in prison. He did a great job.”A And then there was Marisa, his wife: “I also give thanks to God because in this life I have gained a wife that is Spanish.  It is the best thing that has happened to me.  Without her, I would be dead.”  And he ended: “This is the first and only interview that I am going to give and I am doing it because I trust you and I trust your word.”

(Description of Source: Madrid in Spanish -- Website of El Mundo, center-right national daily; URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

US Documents Say Spanish Al-Qaeda Head Belongs to `Most Radical` Islamist Group
June 7, 2011


Report by Jose Maria Irujo: “Head of Al-Qaeda in Spain Belongs to Radical Sect”

According to secret documents from the US Defense Department obtained by El Pais, the Syrian-Spanish national Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, who was one of the founders of Al-Qaeda in Spain and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, belongs to the Takfir wal-Hijra (Anathema and Exile), the most radical and underground sect within radical Islamism. The name of the 44-year-old Barakat Yarkas appears in the secret files on a number of Guantanamo prisoners with whom he was in contact. Some of the files describe him as a takfiri (one who regards other Muslims as infidels), a member of an elitist and sinister hate club that counted among its members Muhammad Ata, the head of the 9/11 suicide terrorists, and a number of those responsible for the 11 March 2004 terrorists attacks in Madrid. Abu Dahdah has been in prison since his arrest in 2001, but his sentence has just been reduced by eight months and so he will be released in late 2012. His lawyer, Jacobo Teijelo, explains that “the reduction in his sentence is a consequence of his being found not guilty of a money-laundering case.”

The secret file on the Jordanian prisoner Abu Anas includes a number of notes on the Syrian-Spanish Abu Dahdah, describing him as a takfiri. Abu Anas, 49 years old, used to work for the radical preacher Abu Qutada in London and a Spanish court sought his extradition. The takfiris are a sect that was born in Egypt in 1969. It now allows its members to wear Western clothing, drink alcohol, smoke, eat pork, and even sell drugs and rob, in order to achieve their main aim: blending in among the “enemy” ranks.

According to the file on prisoner Abu Anas, dated 15 May 2005, he asked Abu Dahdah to provide cash and financial support to Jamal Issa Muhammad Shatat, the imam of the Al-Rahmed Mosque in Alicante. The report, written by US military personnel in Guantanamo and signed by General Jay W. Hood, says that “Shatat and Yarkas (Abu Dahdah) belong to the extremist group Takfir wal-Hijra.”

The Jordanian prisoner, the Alicante imam, and Abu Dahdah himself were on close terms with the London-based Palestinian preacher Abu Qutada, who was an idol to the 9/11 suicide terrorists.

Every time that Abu Dahdah, Marisa (his wife from Madrid), and their children visited London, they stayed at Qutada`s home. Qutada, a fat imam sporting a beard, used to edit Al-Ansar, the magazine of Algeria`s GIA (Armed Islamic Group). He drafted a fatwa applauding the murder of women and children in the waging of jihad. The secret document says that “Qutada is one of the most extreme takfiris among the jihadists.” Today both he and Abu Dahdah are in prison.

Abu Dahdah denies being a member of the Takfir wal-Hijra, but it was he who asserted, following the 11 March 2004 Madrid bombings, that those responsible for the terrorist attacks were takfiris. This was a spot-on interpretation of the events and something that nobody else had claimed. When Abu Dahdah said it, he was in prison, having been arrested without bail.

Three years later, the head of Al-Qaeda in Spain appeared as a witness in the trial for the 11 March 2004 Madrid bombings and he reasserted his opinion. He told the court that the followers of Takfir wal-Hijra, “who follow a forbidden interpretation of Islam,” may have carried out the terrorist attack. Barakat then said that he had no evidence to support that hypothesis and assured the court that he had “no links to the followers of that trend.” However, the criminal proceedings resulting in a 12-year prison sentence proved his close links to Abu Qutada in London. Qutada is the main inspiration of Europe`s takfiris.

(Description of Source: Madrid El in Spanish -- Website of El Pais, center-left national daily; URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.




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