A protected witness claimed yesterday that an Al-Qaeda cell planned an attack on the Barcelona Metro (article in Castilian, El Periodico). He was on the stand giving testimony as part of a case against 10 Pakistani and Indian men accused of conspiring to commit a series of attacks on public transport in the Catalan capital. The man, known by the alias 'Ahmed' and as witness 'F-1', spoke from behind a curtain to hide his identity, and was subjected to four hours of questioning yesterday. He said that he had been a member of Al-Qaeda in Paris since the end of 2005, but that in January 2006 he was ordered to travel to Barcelona to meet the man accused of being the leader of the terrorist cell here. He said that he was later told he had been a designated to be a suicide bomber, that the explosives were being prepared and once ready, the attacks would be carried out. The witness said that he made phone contact with a French policeman he knew to tell him what was planned because he didn’t want to kill innocent people. The defence pointed to various contradictions in what the man had said happened when he previously spoke to the Guardia Civil and examining magistrate prior to appearing in court. These include changing the number of attacks that he said were planned and the number of suicide bombers who were due to take part in the alleged operation.
The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) has said that it is working on a new supercomputer that will be 100 times more powerful than the current machine they’ve created (articles in Castilian, La Vanguardia). BSC is collaborating with IBM on the new supercomputer that is planned to be ready by 2012; it will be called MareIncognito and could cost up to €30 million. In addition, it will include 400,000 processors and could carry out 10,000 billion operations a second. A new building will be constructed to house MareIncognito next to the existing one at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, where the existing supercomputer, MareNostrum, is stored. If the computer is as powerful as BSC hopes, it will be amongst the top 10 machines in the world.
FC Barcelona player Lionel (‘Leo’) Messi has won the Onze d’Or prize given to the best footballer in the world as voted for by the readers of the French magazine Onze Mondial(article in Catalan, Avui). It’s proving to be a fruitful year for the Barça midfielder who has already won the award for best player in last season’s Champions League, and he is now considered favourite to win next month’s FIFA World Player and Golden Ball awards. Messi beat 56 other footballers to pick up the Onze d’Or, including various of his Barça team-mates such as Valdés, Alves and Iniesta; indeed Barça was the team that had the most candidates to win this prize, followed by Manchester United. Last year the Onze d'Or award was won by Cristiano Ronaldo, with Messi coming in second.
Also in the news: Barcelona council launches website to provide information about building works (El Periodico); Granollers to hold popular vote on Catalan independence despite local council’s opposition (Avui); Laptop scheme in Catalan schools to expand from January (La Vanguardia)