Al-Qaeda 'financed Casablanca bombings'

10th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 8 (AFP) - Last year's deadly bomb attacks in Morocco's commercial hub Casablanca were carried out by Moroccan members of Al-Qaeda who were financed by the extremist group, the head of Morocco's police force said in an interview published Saturday.

PARIS, May 8 (AFP) - Last year's deadly bomb attacks in Morocco's commercial hub Casablanca were carried out by Moroccan members of Al-Qaeda who were financed by the extremist group, the head of Morocco's police force said in an interview published Saturday.

General Hamidou Laanigri added Libyan extremist groups may also have had a role in the May 13 attacks against foreign, Jewish and business targets which cost 45 lives, including those of 12 suicide bombers.

"The (attack) was carried out by Moroccan members of Al-Qaeda who met with (Al-Qaeda leader) Osama bin Laden, his ideologist Ayman al-Zawahiri and his operational chief Abu Mussab Zarqawi," he told French daily Le Figaro.

"In 2002 Moroccan jihadists asked bin Laden for financial aid. Zarqawi believed in them and pulled some strings. This is how they obtained the funds to organize May 16, 2003 in Casablanca," he added.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco moved Laanigri from his post as domestic intelligence head to the position of national police chief shortly after the Casablanca attacks.

The police chief said the majority of extremists operating in Morocco had been detained.

"As far as I know, only a dozen dangerous elements are still on the loose. Of course, attacks are always possible," he said before adding "these small Islamic groups do not have the support of the population".

He told the paper some 1,200 people had been brought before the courts as part of a police investigation into extremist activities in Morocco, leading to 700 judgements so far, including 17 death sentences.

"Salafist structures served as a springboard and breeding ground for Al-Qaeda which had a rule for these types of operations: use people who are not known to security service," he said.

"This is what they did. The networks we broke up led us to the Islamic group of Libyan combatants (GCIL) who rallied north African jihadists and the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (MICG)," he added without giving further information on the "Libyan combatants".

The MICG is a shadowy organization believed to be involved in the Casablanca attacks and the deadly March 11 commuter train bombings in Madrid.Asked about the link between the Casablanca and Madrid attacks, Laanigri said: "Madrid was part of a strategy to fight against the American presence in Iraq. Casablanca was a punishment for Morocco's alliance with the West."

The Madrid bombings killed 191 people and injured close to 2,000, making it the worst terrorist attack in Spain's history.

Twelve suspects, most of them Moroccans, have been placed in custody in Spain as part of the investigation into the attacks.

A further seven people blew themselves up when cornered by police in a Madrid suburb and seven other suspects are being sought by the security forces.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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