Morocco arrests two Britons

Two Britons were arrested in Morocco, one of whom is suspected of involvement in the May suicide bombings that killed 44 people in Casablanca, the British embassy in Rabat said on Friday.

    Moroccan authorities are cracking down on religious groups

    “One man is held over the May 16 attacks and the second one is also held, but it's not clear if he is also suspected of  terrorism,” an embassy spokesman in the Moroccon capital, told AFP.

     

    One of the Britons charged has just British nationality, while the second holds dual British-Moroccan nationality. Both are being held in Fez, AFP reported.

     

    Police sources who declined to be named identified the Briton as Stewart Perry Anthony or Perry Jensen. The “Liberation” newspaper wrote that the suspect spent periods of his life in both Chechnya and Afghanistan.

     

    Local authorities, in a security clamp-down, have charged some 700 people, mostly Moroccans, with involvement in the attacks against foreign and Jewish targets in the country’s industrial heartland.

     

    Meanwhile, the trial of 35 suspects charged with involvement in the Casablanca attacks resumed last Friday. The defendants include three suicide-bombers who survived the explosions.

     

    This was the first in a series of trials following a police investigation into the banned Salafia Jihadia group by Moroccan authorities.

     

    Salafia Jihadia

     

    The group stands accused of masterminding the attacks and 200 of its members have been linked to the bombings. 

     

    One of the bombers,  Mohammad al-Omari, justified his participation in the operation by saying the attack was made to highlight increasing social inequality in the north African kingdom.

     

    Proceedings against a number of other suspects were immediately suspended to give the defence more time to gather evidence.

     

    Still, the three would-be suicide bombers, named as Mohamed el Omari, Abou Zoubeir and Rachid Jalil, continued.

     

    Death penalty

     

    The remaining accused will be tried in courts in Casablanca, Rabat, Kenitra and Tangiers in coming months. Those convicted face the death penalty.

     

    The prosecution claims Salafia Jihadia is linked to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.

     

    Earlier on Friday, a court in Fez sentenced 29 members of the group to as much as 30 years in prison on charges of belonging to a criminal organisation, kidnap and inciting violence, MAP news agency reported.

     

    The sentences are not directly linked to the Casablanca blasts.

     

    On 12 July ten suspects found guilty of playing a role in the fatal bombing were sentenced to death. A further 21 were locked up for between a year and life.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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