MADRID, Spain – A terror suspect who allegedly took detailed videos of the World Trade Center (search) used in plotting the Sept. 11 attacks testified Wednesday he did not remember telling police that a fellow defendant recruited Muslim men for "holy war" training in Afghanistan.
Ghasoub al-Abrash Ghalyoun (search), a 39-year-old Syrian-born Spanish citizen, also depicted himself as being "in love with the United States."
The indictment of alleged members of an Al Qaeda cell in Spain contends that videotapes of the twin towers in New York and other landmarks made by Ghalyoun during a 1997 visit were passed to "operative members of Al Qaeda and would become the preliminary information on the attacks against the twin towers."
The alleged leader of the cell, Imad Yarkas (search), testified this week he had nothing to do with the attacks. He also denied setting up a July 2001 meeting in Spain at which one of the suspected suicide pilots and an alleged coordinator of the attacks planned last-minute details.
In testimony before the lunch break Wednesday, Ghalyoun said Yarkas never asked him personally to wage holy war or contribute money for others to do it.
He also testified he did not remember telling police that Yarkas "was a radical person" and that "he was always talking about the mujahedeen," or Islamic fighters. In earlier proceedings, a court clerk read from a statement that Ghalyoun made to police after his April 2002 arrest in Madrid saying that about Yarkas.
Ghalyoun, Yarkas and a third man are being tried on charges of using Spain as a staging ground to help plot the Sept. 11 attacks. Twenty-one other defendants are charged with membership in a terrorist organization, weapons possession and other offenses not related to the attacks.
Yarkas testified Monday and Tuesday that he morally supported embattled Muslims around the world but insisted he had never recruited anybody to go fight alongside them.
In his statement to police, Ghalyoun said Yarkas routinely engaged in recruiting at a Madrid mosque and people who prayed there knew Yarkas was the man to see if they wanted to be sent off for training in camps in Afghanistan, Bosnia or Chechnya.
Yarkas "considered atheists all those who did not share his way of thinking," Ghalyoun was quoted as saying.
Asked specifically if Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, sent men from Spain to camps in Afghanistan, the statement quoted Ghalyoun as saying, "Yes, he had heard that Abu Dahdah sent mujahedeen to wage jihad," or holy war. He said he could not identify the people who went or say how many they were.
Before the session adjourned, prosecutor Pedro Rubira questioned Ghalyoun about his 1997 trip to the United States -- his first to that country -- but did not immediately address the video of the twin towers.
Ghalyoun said it had been his lifelong dream to visit America and that he filmed a corridor and runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport because he was so excited about what he was seeing.
"I had never seen so many planes parked on a runway -- like a parking lot for planes," he said.