Failed Terror Attack German Court Sentences Man to Life for Attempted Bombing

A 24-year-old Lebanese man was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for attempted murder after he and an accomplice tried to set off two crudely made suitcase bombs on two German regional trains in 2006. Prosecutors said the failure of the bombs to go off spared Germany a bloodbath.

A German court sentenced a 24-year-old Lebanese man to life in prison on Tuesday for trying to detonate bombs on two regional trains in western Germany.

The sentence was in line with the demand of the state prosecutor's office which had charged him with multiple counts of attempted murder.

The defendant, Youssef Mohammed el-Hajdib, and his accomplice Jihad Hamad boarded two trains in Cologne in July 2006 with suitcases containing tanks of propane gas and crude detonators. Hamad has already been sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Lebanese court.

The bombs, which prosecutors said could have caused up to 75 casualties, failed to explode because of a fault in their construction.

Youssef Mohammed el-Hajdib, 24, showed waiting reporters his middle fingers as he was led in to receive his sentence.

Youssef Mohammed el-Hajdib, 24, showed waiting reporters his middle fingers as he was led in to receive his sentence.

Judge Ottmar Breidling said: "We owe the fact that there wasn't a devastating bloodbath with many dead to a mistake the defendant and his accomplice Jihad Hamad made in building the explosive devices."

If the bombs had exploded, Germany would have been shaken by a terror attack that would have awakened memories of the attacks in London in 2005 and Madrid in 2004, prosecutors said.

"Anyone who plans the treacherous killing of many people out of hatred and animosity by such dangerous means and who does everything he can to ensure that the deed succeeds, bears so much guilt that the just answer of the law can only be to pass the maximum sentence," said Breidling.

El-Hajdib continues to deny wanting to kill anyone and kept insisting during the trial that the bombs weren't meant to explode. He said they had only been intended as a warning and a protest against cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad that were published in a Danish newspaper in 2005, and reprinted by other European publications. The cartoons sparked protests across the Muslim world.

El-Hajdib showed little reaction as the sentence was read out at the Düsseldorf higher regional court. As he was led into the courtroom he had he shown his middle finger to waiting reporters. His lawyer is appealing against the verdict.

cro -- with wire reports


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