Al Qaida planned simul-blasts
in Casablanca, Riyad

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Al Qaida planned but failed to carry out simultaneous suicide strikes in two Mideast capitals in May.

The interrogation of Al Qaida insurgents in Morocco has resulted in details of a plan to execute suicide bombings in the Saudi capital of Riyad and the Moroccan city of Casablanca. Moroccan security sources said Al Qaida sought to execute the two attacks simultaneously.

But the Al Qaida plot failed when the organization could not obtain explosives to produce the suicide belts in the Casablanca attack. As a result, the sources said, Al Qaida launched the suicide strikes against Western compounds in Saudi Arabia on May 12 and four days later in Casablanca.

[On Tuesday, the United States reported the capture of a leading Al Qaida insurgent in Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said U.S. troops from the 101st Airborne Division detained Aso Hawleri, regarded as the No. 3 member of the Al Qaida-aligned Ansar Al Islam in Mosul last week.]

Both attacks, the sources said, were sponsored and coordinated by Abu Musib Al Zarqawi, a leading Al Qaida operative who has worked for a range of Islamic insurgency groups and their state sponsors. The sources said Al Zarqawi, accused of masterminding the assassination of a U.S. diplomat in Jordan in October 2002, provided the Islamic legitimacy for the suicide strikes and therebyfacilitated the recruitment of operatives.

The sources said the suicide attackers were recruited by Salafist Jihadiya, a leading insurgency group in Morocco. The recruiters were composed of Al Qaida combatants in Afghanistan.

The Moroccan network sought to carry out suicide attacks mostly against Jewish and regime targets throughout the North African kingdom. The sources said 20 suicide attackers were recruited from Marrakesh. Other targets included a Jewish festival in Suweira.

So far, more than 150 people have been arrested in connection with the May 16 strikes in Casablanca. Most of them have already been remanded for trial.

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