A Lebanese man accused of attempting to blow up two German trains said Thursday he never intended to kill anyone. The 23-year-old told a court he opposed the use of violence against citizens.
The bombers were arrested after a massive manhunt
Youssef al-Hajj Dib is on trial in the western German city of Düsseldorf for his role in a botched train bombing attempt in July of 2006.
"I'm happy that at the last moment I was able to prevent innocent victims from dying," al-Hajj Dib told the court, where he is on trial on multiple counts of attempted murder.
He has not been charged with belonging to a terrorist organization.
Al-Hajj Dib said his co-conspirator, Jihad Hammad, 22, incited him to join the train bombing plot. Hamad is serving 12 years in prison after being convicted by a Beruit court.
Wanted to send a warning
The bombers said they didn't mean for the suitcases to explode
According to al-Hajj Dib, Hammad told him it was their duty to kill citizens. During the Beruit trial, Hammad admitted in court that the action had been a protest against caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed published by a Danish newspaper.
Hammad used verses from the Koran and religious opinions to back up this view, al-Hajj Dib said.
"I was unable to contradict him, but my heart told me it was not quite right what we were doing," the accused said. "I believed in jihad (holy war) and was against the US presence in Iraq, but also opposed the use of violence against civilians."
At the Lebanese court hearing, Hammad said the opposite. He claimed that al-Hajj Dib thought up the plan and persuaded him to go along with it.
The two men built bombs using designs they found on the Internet. They placed the bombs in suitcases and went together to the train station in Cologne on July 31, 2006. The trains headed in opposite directions with the bombs on board.
German police said the men assembled the bombs incorrectly, which is why they failed to go off. If they had exploded, it's estimated that hundreds of people would've been killed.
Al-Hajj Dib was identified with the help of surveillance footage from the Cologne airport. He was arrested at Kiel railway station in northern Germany as he prepared to leave the country.