- The Washington Times - Monday, April 5, 2004


MADRID — Authorities announced another arrest in the Madrid terror bombings yesterday and sent police to patrol subway and bus stations, as a newspaper said a group linked to al Qaeda threatened to turn Spain into “an inferno.”

Court officials in Spain said the arrest came Saturday in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast. No details were given on the man’s identity or suspected role in the March 11 train attacks, which killed 191 persons. The arrest raises to 16 the number of persons in custody, including six charged with mass murder.

Interior Minister Angel Acebes confirmed yesterday that one of those killed in a suicide blast Saturday in an apartment south of Madrid was Moroccan Jamal Ahmidan, a prime suspect in the bombings.

The newspaper ABC reported that hours before the terrorists killed themselves Saturday, it received a fax from the group that had claimed responsibility for the March 11 bombings. This time, the group warned it would turn Spain “into an inferno” unless the country withdrew its support for the United States and pulled Spanish troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, ABC said.

“If these demands are not met, we will declare war on you and … convert your country into an inferno and your blood will flow like rivers,” the letter said.

It gave the next day as the deadline for compliance.

ABC said the letter was handwritten in Arabic and signed “Abu Dujana Al Afgani, Ansar Group, al Qaeda in Europe.” A videotape found outside a Madrid mosque March 13 showed an Arabic-speaking man reading a statement signed by Al Afgani in which he claimed responsibility for the train bombings.

Meanwhile, authorities in France detained 13 suspected militants, including one about to flee the country, in a dawn raid yesterday stemming from deadly terrorist attacks in Casablanca, Morocco, police said.

In France, agents raided eight locations in search of suspects connected to last year’s bombings in Casablanca, police sources said.

Morocco had issued arrest warrants for three of the suspects, including Moustapha Baouchi, a Moroccan who reportedly underwent explosives training in militant camps in Afghanistan and is thought to have headed a six-member Islamic cell in Paris. His brother also was detained.

The names of the others were not released. Under French law, they can be held for up to 96 hours without being placed under formal investigation.

The operation was part of an investigation into near-simultaneous suicide attacks in Casablanca that killed 33 persons and 12 bombers on May 16, authorities said.

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation three days after the attacks because three of the victims were French.

The DST, France’s domestic security agency, conducted the roundup in the suburbs of Paris on orders of two French antiterrorism judges, Jean-Louis Bruguiere and Jean-Francois Ricard.

One person was detained at Charles de Gaulle Airport as he tried to leave the country, Paris prosecutor Yves Bot said.

Those detained for questioning are suspected of belonging to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, Mr. Bot said. The organization, which reportedly has links to al Qaeda, has been blamed by the Spanish government in the March 11 railroad attacks in Madrid.

However, Mr. Bot said authorities do not have evidence linking the suspects in France to the Madrid bombings.

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