MADRID, Spain – A Spanish magistrate filed formal charges on Sunday against eight suspected Islamic militants accused of playing a role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, news reports said.
Investigative magistrate Baltasar Garzon ordered the eight men jailed Sunday morning after a 12-hour round of preliminary questioning that lasted until 2 a.m., Spanish National Radio reported. Three other detainees were released without charges.
The men were charged with document forgery, robbery and membership in a terrorist organization — in this case al Qaeda, the network headed by Usama bin Laden. The men deny the charges.
Garzon will now prepare a legal case against the men and present it to a court for trial.
Prosecutor Pedro Rubira was cited by Cadena SER radio as saying the eight helped provide false identity documents and collected money through stolen credit cars and robberies for terrorists based in Hamburg, Germany.
Among those jailed was Syrian Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah. Prosecutors believe he is al Qaeda's top representative in Spain.
Dahdah is said to have had contacts with other al Qaeda cells in Europe, and his name appeared in a diary confiscated during the arrest of an alleged bin Laden agent in Hamburg.
Unidentified court officials told Spain's national news agency, Efe, that Dahdah had connections to Mohamed Atef, bin Laden's right-hand man who was killed by U.S. bombs in Afghanistan, and possibly with others directly responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
The 11 men were detained Tuesday by police, who initially said they belonged to an Islamic guerrilla movement and recruited new members in Spain to be trained in camps abroad to carry out terrorist attacks.
Police said they seized computer data, videos of Islamic guerrilla activities, hunting rifles, swords, false identity documents and a large amount of money in the raids.
Most of the detained men have Spanish citizenship; all but one were originally from Muslim countries.
Authorities said the group had links to six Algerians detained in Spain on Sept. 26 and currently jailed on charges of belonging to the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, an Algerian organization allegedly financed by bin Laden.
Sought by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, bin Laden is the prime suspect behind the Sept. 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Garzon, the prosecuting magistrate handling the case, is best known internationally for his attempts to have former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet extradited to Spain to face trial for human rights crimes.