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9/11 DEFENDANT DENIES THAT HE KNEW OF AL-QAIDA

A suspected Muslim extremist accused of helping plot the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States said Tuesday he had never even heard of the al-Qaida terrorist network until he was arrested four years ago on suspicion of leading one of its cells. Imad Yarkas condemned the 9/1 1 attacks, saying that such acts are banned under Islam.

The Syrian-born Spaniard was testifying for a second day in his trial on charges that he arranged a planning meeting in Spain in July 2001 for one of the suicide pilots and a coordinator of the plot.

Yarkas is on trial with 23 others in Europe's biggest court case against radical groups with alleged ties to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. If convicted, he could face a symbolic sentence of almost 75,000 years in prison -- 25 years for each of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks in New York and Washington.

Two alleged accomplices also face charges that they helped organize the 9/1 1 attacks, and 21 others are charged with being members of a terrorist group, illegally possessing weapons and other offenses.