7 July 2004
AMSTERDAM − Belgian police have arrested a Dutch resident of Moroccan origin on suspicion of involvement in the Madrid train bombings in March.
The man was arrested on 1 July when the suspect − identified as El Houcine el H., of the southern Dutch city Weert − applied for asylum in Belgium, Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Wednesday.
A spokesman from the federal prosecution office in Brussels said that the suspect was accused of preparing an international terrorist attack from Belgium.
He said the arrest was linked to arrests carried out on 8 June, when Belgian authorities raided homes in Brussels, Schaarbeek and Antwerp and arrested 15 people.
The detainees − who originate from Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco − were accused of holding links with the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM). Four suspects are still being held on remand.
The four suspects are alleged to have formed an operational group that used Belgium as its base and could have been sent anywhere across the globe to carry out terrorist attacks. The terrorist cell was allegedly managed from Italy.
Meanwhile, the brother-in-law of the Dutch suspect, Khalid B., who also lives in Weert, was previously arrested in the Netherlands on possible suspicion of involvement in the Casablanca attacks on 16 May 2003 which killed 43 people.
Dutch police arrested B. − who has both Belgian and Moroccan nationality − during a routine traffic control in the Dutch province of Limburg in January. A check of his identity indicated that Morocco had issued an arrest warrant for him.
Morocco has since requested the extradition of B. and the Roermond Court in the south of the Netherlands will hand down its ruling on Friday.
The court previously ruled on 18 May that that it could not come to a judgement on the extradition request because the Moroccan documents were too vague. It requested more information.
Morocco claims that B. underwent paramilitary training to become a member of GICM and was entrusted with setting up a Belgian terror cell and the recruitment of new members. Morocco bases its accusations on testimony from another GICM member.
The two Moroccan brothers-in-law are almost certainly included on the list of 150 potential terrorists that Dutch secret service AIVD keeps under 24-hour surveillance.
El Houcine el H. has undergone military training in Afghanistan and has had contact with Chechen rebels. His wife, Samira, who he lives with in Weert, confirmed the claims in the regional Belgian newspaper Het Belang van Limburg, but denied her husband was involved in any terrorist attacks.
The AIVD − which has frequently warned in the past against radical extremists believed to be active in the Netherlands − has refused to comment about the two brothers-in-law. A spokeswoman said releasing information could harm investigations.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch + Belgian news