Bomb group supports al-Qaeda

2004-04-20 20:27

Rabat - The Moroccan group accused of carrying out the Madrid train bombings in March and the Casablanca suicide bombings last year is a "derivative structure" of al-Qaeda, a press report here said on Tuesday.

Quoting the "confessions" of a Moroccan Islamic extremist, the newspaper Aujourd'hui le Maroc said the leader of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) told interrogators that the group is "a derivative structure of al-Qaeda whose militants are supporters steeped in the murderous themes of the Saudi guru (Osama bin Laden)."

The pro-government paper cited the record of August 2003 police investigations, which it had obtained, containing "revelations" by Noureddine Nfia, who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the May 2003 Casablanca attacks that claimed 45 lives.

The report said Nfia had met with Bin Laden's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in July 2000 in Afghanistan when the "GICM sought, through ... Noureddine Nfia, al-Qaeda's support for operations in Moroccan territory."

"Ayman al-Zawahiri showed his willingness to help GICM in the political and military domains," Nfia is quoted as telling interrogators.

Zawahiri's Jamaat al-Jihad al-Islami organisation shared its "organisational experience (to) extremely well-trained GICM members," the paper said Nfia said.

"They needed blessings and financing, and al-Qaeda took them on," the paper said.

With Nfia in prison, the paper named Taeb Bentizi as the GICM's new leader, with Mohamed Guerbouzi as his deputy.

Guerbouzi, whose name came up following the March 11 attacks in Madrid, was a top recruiter for GICM and the "main co-ordinator between its cells in Europe."

Last Friday, Aujourd'hui le Maroc reported an initial series of "revelations" by Nfia, notably that GICM had sleeper cells in Britain, Belgium, France, Italy and Canada.

Nfia drafted GICM's 33-page "doctrinal charter" setting out a consultative council, an executive council and commissions, he told his questioners.