Morocco arrests 34 suspects in Casablanca strike

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

CAIRO Morocco continues to arrest suspects in the Al Qaida suicide strikes in the North African kingdom.

Moroccan security sources said the kingdom has detained an additional 34 suspects in the suicide strikes on May 16 in Casablanca. The sources said the suspects were members of Islamic insurgency groups such as the banned Salfiya Jihadiya.

In all, Moroccan authorities have charged more than 100 people with links to Islamic insurgency groups over the last two weeks, Middle East Newsline reported. The offenses ranged from membership in a banned organization to attacks on Muslims deemed as having failed to practice their faith. The defendants were charged under the new anti-terror law passed in wake of the May 16 suicide bombings in May.

Many of the latest suspects have been accused of maintaining links with the Al Qaida suicide network in Casablanca in which 10 people blew themselves up around Western and Jewish interests in the city.

The suspects have been remanded and will soon appear in court where they will be formally charged.

So far, 33 of the detainees have been referred to the Moroccan prosecutor for additional questioning and a determination of formal charges. The detainees were arrested by Moroccan police and a special security unit that focuses on Islamic militants.

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The sources said the suspects were believed to be part of an Islamic insurgency network in Casablanca from which the suicide attackers were recruited. In all, 14 suicide attackers were recruited for the May 16 attacks, but four of them did not carry out their mission.

The network was organized by Salfiya and operated in such Casablanca neighborhoods as Sidi Mumin and Tuma, the sources said. These neighborhoods are poor areas dominated by Islamic militant groups.

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