Mistake in failed train bombs explained in German court

Other News Materials 15 April 2008 20:30 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Time-bombs that nearly shattered two German trains and brought Islamic terrorist carnage to Germany would have each set off a fireball up to 15 metres wide if they had been built according to the instructions, a court was told Tuesday.

An expert from Germany's federal materials science agency was testifying at the trial of Youssef al-Hajj Dib, 23, one of two Lebanese students accused of the bungled 2006 attack, which copied horrific bombings of trains in London and Madrid.

The bombers used instructions found on the internet. The expert said their mistake was to use pure propane as the incendiary instead of a dangerous propane-gas mixture. Bombs made by the instructions for test purposes had produced huge fireballs.

Al-Hajj Dib has claimed he deliberately sabotaged the bombs and only meant to give Germans a fright. So far Germany has never been hit by a major terrorist attack motivated by Islamic fundamentalism.

"You can't detonate pure propane," the expert explained in a Dusseldorf court.

"I would not dare mix the gas myself. It's too dangerous," he said. The laboratory had done so by remote control.

The other Lebanese, Jihad Hamad, has already been convicted in Beirut. The two men were filmed by security cameras at Cologne as they took the bombs, concealed in suitcases, aboard separate cross- country trains.

Presiding judge Ottmar Breidling said Tuesday he was "optimistic" that he and the legal teams could interview Hamad in Lebanon. Beirut has declined to send him to Germany, or to put him on a video link to the German courtroom.