German Suitcase Bomber Says Mohammed Cartoons Set Him Off | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 09.11.2006
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German Suitcase Bomber Says Mohammed Cartoons Set Him Off

A Lebanese man who has admitted plotting to bomb two trains in Germany said in an interview that he and his accomplice were driven by the publication of cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed.

The wanted poster with a picture of Jihad Hamad

Jihad Hamad says his confession was made under duress

Jihad Hamad told German public television NDR in his first interview since turning himself in to police in Beirut in August that he and fellow Lebanese national Youssef Mohammed el-Hajdib wanted to exact revenge for an affront against Islam.

"Youssef told me that two German newspapers had printed the Mohammed caricatures," NDR quoted him as saying ahead of the interview's broadcast on Thursday. "He told me that we could not do nothing. We would go to hell if we did not do anything."

Hajdib, who was registered as a student in Germany, is in custody in Berlin.

Worldwide anger

The publication of the 12 Mohammed cartoons in a Danish newspaper last year, and their reproduction in other mostly European media this year, sparked Muslims' anger worldwide and triggered a wave of violent protests.

Several Indonesian protestors tearing up a Danish flag

Demonstration against the publication of Mohammed cartoons took place all over the world

Authorities believe Hamad and Hajdib are the two men captured on security cameras July 31 planting suitcases packed with bombs on regional trains. Technical defects in the bombs prevented an almost certain bloodbath.

Hamad told NDR that he and Hajdib had no other accomplice.

"There was no third person," he said.

Scare tactics?

NDR said that although Hamad had told Lebanese authorities in questioning after he was taken into custody that the aim of the attacks had been "to kill as many people as possible", he and Hajdib never intended for the bombs to go off.

A young man carrying a suitcase on the escalator

A surveillance camera caught Hamad's arrival with the suitcase bombs

"We wanted to scare people," Hamad said.

He said his confession dated Sept. 4 had been made under duress.

"I was beaten after my arrest. I was threatened. They told me 'If you don't admit it we will give you electric shocks'," he said.

His lawyer, Fawaz Zakaria, however, told NDR that his client had not been abused in jail.

Fundamentalist training

NDR said that before moving to Germany, Hamad had attended a mosque in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli that was known for a fundamentalist imam with radical views on "holy war against infidels."

The imam, Abu Abdallah Husam az-Zahid, told NDR reporters that the Mohammed cartoons justified the planned attacks.

"Someone who insults the Prophet and then shows no remorse must be killed. That is the sentence foreseen by the sharia," he said.

When asked by a reporter whether he felt these views were extreme, Hamad answered "no."

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