Thursday, May 22, 2008

Belgium-based Moroccan behind dismantled "terror network"

RABAT, May 21 (Xinhua) -- A Moroccan national living in Brussels was the mastermind behind a "terrorist network" involving11 people that was dismantled by Moroccan security forces earlier this week, a Moroccan newspaper has reported.

The Moroccan police had moved in to arrest the members of the network Monday "after receiving credible information regarding the activities of Abdellatif Bekkali, a Brussels-based Moroccan," the independent Arabic daily Assabah reported Tuesday.

"Abdellatif Bekkali had been instrumental in sending Moroccans, Algerians and Belgians to fight in Iraq. The group included Issam Goris, a Moroccan native of Meknes (center), who was killed in a suicide attack in the suburbs of Baghdad," said the daily quoting "anonymous security sources."

Issam Goris was the husband of Muriel Degauque, a Belgian national who in 2005 became the first Westerner to commit a suicide attack in Iraq, according to reliable sources.

But the Moroccan police are not denying or confirming the newspaper reports, only reiterating that "investigations into the activities of the suspected terror network are still going on" and that "more arrests could be made."

The alleged network was planning to launch attacks against targets in both Morocco and Belgium, police sources were quoted assaying Monday by the official Moroccan News Agency (MAP).

Chief among the high-profile targets included a building belonging to the European Union and a hotel in Brussels, the Belgian VRT radio reported Monday evening citing anonymous security sources.

"The Moroccan police had been informed that Bekkali had established a network in Nador, northern Morocco, and had managed to send a group of several young Moroccans to train in Al-Qaeda-run camps in Algeria," according to the Moroccan newspaper.

According to investigations conducted jointly by the Belgian and Moroccan police, said Assabah, Bekkali sent money via an agency to finance the travel of a group of Moroccans to Algeria and Mauritania for training in Al-Qaeda camps, before eventually sending them to Iraq.

Bekkali, according to Moroccan intelligence circles, "is regarded as a relative of Mohamed Reha, a Belgian of Moroccan origin" who was arrested in an anti-terrorism operation in Moroccoin 2005.

Reha and his uncle Ahmed Zemmouri, both Belgians of Moroccan origin, were among a group of 21 Islamists sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to ten years for "constitution of a criminal gang with the purpose of committing terrorist acts" in Morocco.

Source: XinhuaNet

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