A Moroccan man sought in connection with last month’s deadly train bombings in Madrid was indicted Wednesday on charges that he helped plan the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The man, Amer Azizi, 36, helped organize a meeting in northeast Spain in July 2001 where key plotters in the U.S. attacks finalized details of the attacks, High Court Judge Baltasar Garzon said in the indictment. Among those at the meeting was Mohammed Atta, who was believed to have been the pilot of one of the four jets that were hijacked as part of the plot.
Azizi, who is also known as alias Othman al Andalusi, was initially included in an indictment Garzon handed down in September against Osama bin Laden and 34 other terror suspects. Azizi was charged then with belonging to a terrorist organization.
The new indictment charges him with actually helping plan the Sept. 11 attacks, which killed about 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Garzon accused Azizi of multiple counts of murder — “as many deaths and injuries as were committed” on Sept. 11.
The indictment was based on information provided by authorities in Britain, Turkey and the United States, Garzon said.
On the run since November 2001
Azizi had a “direct connection with al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan who were responsible for the attacks,” Garzon charged, saying Azizi provided lodging for people who attended the 2001 meeting in the Tarragona region of Spain and acted as a courier, passing on messages among plotters.
According to a U.S. congressional investigation, Atta flew to Madrid in July 2001, where authorities believe he met with co-conspirator Ramzi Binalshibh to discuss the plot. Binalshibh, who provided money to many of the hijackers, is in U.S. custody at an undisclosed overseas location. The U.S. investigation did not mention the presence of any other conspirators in Spain.
Garzon described Azizi as the right-hand man of Imad Yarkas, who was jailed in November 2001 on charges that he led a Spain-based al-Qaida cell that allegedly provided financing and logistics for planners of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Azizi fled Spain in November 2001, shortly after a wave of arrests netted Yarkas and more than a dozen other al-Qaida suspects.
The Interior Ministry released a photo of Azizi this month, calling him a suspect in the March 11 train bombings in Madrid, in which 191 people died and more than 2,000 others were injured.
Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen, remains the only person charged in the United States as a conspirator in the Sept. 11 attacks. Moussaoui, who is awaiting trial in Virginia, has admitted belonging to al-Qaida but has denied that he was part of the terror plot.
Earlier this month, Mounir el Motassadeq, the only person ever to have been convicted in the Sept. 11 plot walked out of a German jail less than 2½ years into his 15-year sentence.
El Motassadeq, 30, of Morocco, was convicted of more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder and membership in a terrorist organization. But German court judges ruled last month that the evidence was too weak to hold him pending a retrial.