Moroccan Radical Cell suspected in Madrid Bombing
ash-Sharq al-Awsat: The Madrid bombings shed new light on persons wanted before, on suspicion of being involved in the Casablanca bombings of 16 May. Among them is Ammar Azizi, whose name has already been mentioned in the list of top al-Qaeda suspects compiled by Spanish judge Balthazar Garzon. Azizi’s nom de guerre is Uthman al-Andalusi (Andalus refers to the Arab-dominated area of Spain, from which Muslims were expelled in 1492 by the forces of the Catholic Reconquista). Garzon believes that Azizi was assigned to recruit new members for al-Qaeda in Spain, and that he fled to Iran, where he was seen in the company of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. (now suspected of organizing bombings in Iraq).
The Moroccan authorities had previously issued an international wanted notice for 16 of the suspects in the Casablanca bombing, among them five perons they describe as “dangerous.” At their head is Abdul Aziz Binya’ish, known as “Abdul Aziz,” also listed by Garzon. According to the Spanish documents, he is close to an organization called “Troops of God.” The Moroccans say he is part of the Moroccan terrorist group, “al-Muqatilah.” (The Fighting [organization]), which was founded in Afghanistan during the Taliban period. He has been in Spanish custody since last summer. A warrant for his arrest issued last June also names Adil “Abu Turab” Fiyash and Mustafa Barakati, known as “al-`Umari” and al-Sabbagh (the Dyer); and Hisham al-Tamsamani Jad, known as Duwaym. Jad was turned over to Morocco by the Spanish authorities on 12 March, just one day before the 11 March train bombings in Madrid.
Altogether, 16 Moroccans were wanted in connection to the Casablanca bombings. They are suspected of belonging to the financial arm of a radical cell founded by Pierre Robert Antoine, a French convert to Islam. Antoine was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Morocco after the Casablanca bombing. Other names mentioned in the list are Ibrahim Hamdi, Abdul Salam Dishrawi, Rashid Ahariz, Said al-Shidadi (a merchant in Madrid suspected of belonging to the organization of Abu al-Dahdah the Syrian, now in Spanish custody, and considered a representative of al-Qaeda in the Iberian peninsula. Also Najib Shuhaib Muhammad, called “Najib,” also suspected of belonging to the Abu al-Dahdah organization; and Idris al-Shibli, of the same organization, who was assigned to recruit new members in Madrid (he is now in custody). The fifth Moroccan listed by Garzon is Salah al-Din Binya’ish, the brother of Abdul Aziz Binya’ish. Salah al-Din is doing time for the Casablanca bombing.
That some suspects in the Casablanca bombing are being looked at for the Madrid one suggests that the same group was behind both. For this reason, Moroccan sources blamed Spain for having not cooperated in earnest with Rabat after the 16 May bombings in Casablanca. Nor had they offered real cooperation when an al-Qaeda sleeper cell had been discovered in Morocco.
Now, of course, security cooperation between Spain and Morocco has been accelerated.