Speaker in Al Qaida videotape had 'Moroccan accent'

Monday, March 15, 2004

Morocco is sending a security delegation to Spain to help interrogate three Moroccan nationals suspected of helping plan the train bombings Thursday in Madrid which killed about 200.

Officials said the suspects were linked to Islamic insurgency groups. Moroccan government spokesman Nabil Bin Abdullah identified the three suspects held by Spain as Jamal Zougam, 30; Mohamed Bekkali, 31, and Mohamed Chaoui, 34. Bin Abdullah said all three came from northern Morocco.

Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes said Sunday that authorities have recovered a videotape of a man who claimed that Al Qaida was responsible for the attacks.

"It's a claim made by a man in Arabic with a Moroccan accent," Acebes said. "He makes the declaration in the name of someone who says he is the military spokesman of Al Qaida in Europe."

Western intelligence agencies have judged that Islamic insurgency groups in either Morocco or Algeria were connected to the 10 backpack bombs detonated by cellular phones in Madrid on Thursday. Intelligence sources said the Salafist Jihadiya group, deemed a subcontractor for Al Qaida, could have helped plan the attacks with help from Basque or other insurgency elements in Spain.

The Salafist group was believed to have worked with Al Qaida in the 10 suicide bombings that took place in May 2003 in Casablanca. The sites selected by the suicide bombers included Jewish and Spanish targets.

Another Islamic insurgency group in Morocco with ties to Al Qaida is the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group. Unlike the Salafist group, the MICG has been listed by the State Department's latest "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report.

Officials said members of both Moroccan groups have trained in Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan. Many returned to Morocco after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.

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