By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 4/13/2006 | 3:49 pm
Spain's investigating magistrate Juan Del Olmo said on Tuesday that the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM), which he described as "the main agent of the Salafist Jihadist movement" in Spain, masterminded the 2004 Madrid train attacks.
The Spanish daily, El Pais, reported that Judge Del Olmo said he discovered the existence of two large networks during his investigation, all linked to the GICM, the first of which had directly participated in the attack attempts, while the second group facilitated the perpetrators' escape.
“The Madrid bombings, which left 191 dead and 1,755 injured, were masterminded by Islamist radicals who have links to the GICM: 7 suicide bombers, 4 fugitives, and 2 in prison. That's the conclusion of Del Olmo in his 1,470-page report issued on Tuesday,” the Spanish daily reported.
Founded in the late 1990s, the GICM was listed by the United States as a terrorist group which aimed to establish an Islamic state in Morocco and to support al-Qaeda's struggle against Western countries.
The GICM has also been linked to the 2003 attacks in Casablanca, which killed 45 people, among them the 12 suicide bombers.
Following the indictment, the Spanish investigating magistrate is prosecuting 29 of 116 for the 2004 Madrid attacks. The 29 indicted include 15 Moroccans, four other Arabs, a Syrian with Spanish nationality, and nine Spaniards.
Six of the men have been charged with mass murder or conspiring to mass murder, including Moroccan Jamal Zougam, who allegedly supplied the cell phones that detonated the bombs, and José Emilio Suárez Trashorras, a Spanish mine worker who helped secure the dynamite used in the explosives.
The remaining 23 named in the summary are indicted on charges that range from collaborating with a terrorist organization to trafficking in explosives.
According to the judge's detailed indictment, terrorists with the GICM received information of and access to classified documents from an organization named the Global Islamic Media via the Internet.
In September 2003, they received a document from the Media calling on them to act against Spain before the country's election and press Spain to pull back troops from Iraq, taking advantage of the consequences of the attacks. The report indicated that the Spanish alliance with the US increased the risk of terrorist attacks.
The indictment also says the cell spent about $120,000 to stage the attacks and caused material damage and civil liability of more than $26 million.
It said the central figure in the financing, planning and execution of the attacks was a Moroccan named Jamal Ahmidan. He and six other alleged ringleaders, including its ideological mastermind, Tunisian Serhan Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, blew themselves up three weeks after the massacre as police moved in on their hideout in the Madrid suburb of Leganes.
Abdelmajid Bouchar, who was arrested last year in Serbia-Montenegro after being a fugitive, was identified by the police as having been at the Leganes apartment with the other terrorists.
El Pais said that Del Olmo also excluded ETA's relation with the slaughter, a theory that the former government under the presidency of José Maria Aznar tried to maintain.
The Christian Science Monitor stated that “the report released this week by a Spanish investigative magistrate illuminates one of the most pressing questions arising from both the bombings in Madrid and, later, in London: Did al-Qaeda operatives direct these assaults on Europe, or simply inspire them?”
The 1,470-page summary indicates that the Madrid bombers were actually members of an independent network of Salafist radicals active in North Africa, and that Osama bin Laden's organization merely exercised a kind of guiding influence.
This week it was also reported that British officials have determined the London bombers were also an autonomous cell that drew little more than inspiration from al-Qaeda.
“The attacks were the product of a simple and inexpensive plot hatched by four British suicide bombers bent on martyrdom rather than an international terror network. There was no fifth bomber and no direct support from al-Qaeda, although two of the bombers had visited Pakistan,” said a government report, which will be published in the next few weeks,” reported The Observer.
The Madrid bombings were Spain's worst terrorist attack and are seen as having brought down a conservative Spanish government that backed the US-led war in Iraq.