Germany jails Lebanese for life over train bomb attempt

A German court Tuesday gave a life-imprisonment sentence to a Lebanese man who planted bombs on two trains that would have caused mass carnage if they had exploded. Youssef al-Hajj Dib, 24, was convicted by the court in Dusseldorf of multiple attempted murder. His accomplice, Jihad Hamad, was convicted at a separate trial in Lebanon and is serving a 12-year prison term in Beirut.

Judges said “the utterly terrorist act” had only failed because of an error.

The two students did not exactly follow a bomb-making recipe they found on the internet. They would have caused a “bloodbath on a terrible scale” if they had managed to blow up the two passenger trains.

Prosecutors portrayed the two plotters as copycats who were not connected to any world terrorist group.

But the court said both men were inspired by Osama bin Laden, who appointed three Arab students at German universities as hijack pilots for the Islamist suicide attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

As long-haired and bearded al-Hajj Dib was led away from the courtroom, he used the middle finger of both hands to make obscene gestures through security glass to reporters and the audience in court.

On July 31, 2006, closed-circuit security cameras filmed the two men as they carried black suitcases and boarded regional passenger trains leaving in opposite directions from Cologne station.

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