A Moroccan arrested Friday in connection with last spring's Madrid train bombing may be the leader in Europe of a militant Islamist group accused of carrying out the Casablanca...
MADRID, Spain A Moroccan arrested Friday in connection with last spring’s Madrid train bombing may be the leader in Europe of a militant Islamist group accused of carrying out the Casablanca bombings in 2003, a source close to the investigation said yesterday.
The shadowy Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (MICG) is suspected of playing a role in both the Madrid attacks in March, which killed 191 people, and the May 2003 bombings in Casablanca, Morocco, in which 12 suicide bombers and 32 others were killed.
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Spanish police arrested four Moroccans, all suspected MICG members, on Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, on Friday. Their leader was identified as Hassan el Haski, 41.
High Court Judge Juan del Olmo had issued a warrant for Haski’s arrest in connection with the Madrid attacks, while Judge Baltasar Garzon is investigating his links to the MICG.
But both the source and Amsterdam, Netherlands, public prosecutor’s spokesman Robert Meulenbroek denied a report in Spain’s ABC newspaper yesterday that Dutch police had told Spain that Haski might be linked to the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in November. Haski’s name is “not known to us,” Meulenbroek said.
Spanish police believe Haski fled a crackdown on suspected MICG members this year in France and Belgium, and that he and the other Moroccans were building a logistical base for the group in the Canary Islands.
The Interior Ministry said the MICG is part of Salafist Jihad, an ultra-conservative Islamist movement, and is closely linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network.
MICG goals include “establishing an Islamic state in Morocco and supporting al-Qaida jihad (holy war) against the West,” according to the U.S. State Department.
Those arrested with Haski were Abdallah Mourib, 36, an imam at a Lanzarote mosque and a leading member of the MICG; Ali Fahimi, 31; and Brahim Atia el Hammouchi, 40, the Interior Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the Saudi branch of al-Qaida called for attacks against oil infrastructure in the Persian Gulf in a Web statement posted yesterday. It was not possible to authenticate the statement, signed by the group Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.