Subject: Spain : Moroccan Arrested Was Watched
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2004 00:22:38 +0100
X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.50.4522.1200
14 March 2004 By NICOLAS MARMIE Associated Press Writer
Moroccan Arrested in Madrid Was Watched
RABAT, Morocco -- One of three Moroccans arrested in connection with the
Madrid train bombings was already being closely watched by authorities in
his homeland, where he was suspected of ties to international terror
groups, a Moroccan official said Sunday.
Jamal Zougam, 30, was one of thousands of Moroccans put under surveillance
by authorities after May terrorist bombings in the coastal city of
Casablanca, a high-level official told The Associated Press, speaking on
condition of anonymity.
There were no formal accusations against him, and the official did not
say to which groups Zougam may be linked.
The other two suspects, Mohamed Bekkali, 31, and Mohamed Chaoui, 34,
had no police record at home, the official said. All three had been living
Spain for years.
Spanish authorities arrested the three Saturday, along with two Indians,
in connection with Thursday bombings in Madrid, which killed 200 people
and injured 1,500.
All were taken into custody in connection with a cell phone and prepaid
card in an explosives-filled gym bag found on one of the four trains
bombed, Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes has said. Acebes also
said one of the Moroccans may be linked to extremist groups but did not
say which one.
No particular terror group has been named in connection with Saturday's
arrests in Spain. But a reported "al-Qaida" claim states it staged deadly
rail bombings last week to punish the government for supporting the
US-led war in Iraq.
Spain's El Pais newspaper, citing the interior ministry, reported the
Moroccans have links to Abu Dahdah, the jailed alleged leader of
"al-Qaida's Spanish cell. Authorities in Morocco said they could not
comment on the report.
The three men are all from northern Morocco, a region that has a strong
network of Islamic militants and where many people growing cannabis
clandestinely and exporting it illegally to Europe.
Moroccan security experts arrived in Spain on Sunday to help in the
investigation. Morocco's Interior Ministry said the experts were members
of a team that has already spent nearly a year working with Spanish
officials on the investigation into Casablanca's terror bombings.
Spanish citizens were among 33 people killed by Casablanca's suicide
bombings against Jewish targets and a Spanish restaurant close to the
Those attacks were blamed on Salafia Jihadia, a secretive, radical
Islamic group that Moroccan authorities believe is linked to al-Qaida.
Twelve suicide bombers also died.
In a crackdown of Islamic radical groups that followed, Moroccan
authorities took about 6,000 people in for questioning, and the courts
have convicted about 1,000 of them.
In June, Spanish authorities arrested two Moroccan suspects accused
of ties to the Casablanca attacks.
Abdelaziz Benyaich, who has dual French-Moroccan nationality, is being
held in Spain for a suspected role in preparing the May 16 attacks, said
a Moroccan Interior Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He was arrested in the southern Spanish town of Algeciras.
Another suspect, Hicham Temsemani, was arrested in a train ............