Bomb suspect 'was expelled from Libya'

2011-05-06 14:38
Rabat - The main suspect in last month's deadly bomb attack in Marrakesh was previously expelled from Libya and Portugal, Moroccan Interior Minister Taieb Cherkaoui said on Friday after three people were arrested.

The alleged bomb-maker "was expelled from Portugal in 2004 and from Libya in 2008, when he was trying to get to Iraq", Cherkaoui said.

He added that the three Moroccan suspects who have been arrested "admire al-Qaeda, are filled with al-Qaeda ideology and with Salafist ideology", in a reference to a radical Islamist movement.

The main suspect learned on the internet how to make explosives and used a mobile telephone to trigger the two bombs of six and nine kilogrammes on April 28 in a crowded Marrakesh cafe popular with tourists, according to the minister.

Sixteen people, including eight French nationals, lost their lives in the attack in Jamaa El Fna square, the tourist heart of Marrakesh, in the south of the north African kingdom.

The attack also left 21 people injured.

The suspected bomber left two bags containing the bombs on the Argana cafe terrace and triggered the blasts just after leaving the cafe, the minister said.

The suspect had initially planned to attack a different cafe, according to Cherkaoui.

The three Moroccans were arrested at Safi, 350km south of Casablanca, a security official said on Thursday, adding that they had a police record and were known for taking part in the recruitment of fighters for Iraq.

There was speculation that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) was linked to the attack but so far no one has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Questioned on that fact, government spokesperson Khalid Naciri has said: "If al-Qaeda has not claimed it, that does not mean it is not responsible."

The interior ministry said on Thursday that the main suspect was "a keen jihadist who has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda".

The three suspects will be heard by a judge "after the ongoing investigation is closed".

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  morocco  |  north africa
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