“I am not hiding and I am not a terrorist,” said Muhammad al-Guerbouzi, speaking from London.
London media reported that British investigators asked their European counterparts, including Europol, to search for al-Guerbouzi, 44, but Europol spokesman Rainer Wenning declined to comment on the reports.
“These are all lies. They have made up this story,” al-Guerbouzi said in the Aljazeera interview aired late on Saturday night. He accused someone at the Moroccan embassy in London whom he refused to name of being behind the allegations that he had links to groups described as terrorist.
Al-Guerbouzi was convicted in absentia in his native Morocco in 2003 and sentenced to 20 years in prison in connection with bombings that killed 33 bystanders and 12 bombers in Casablanca two years ago.
French officials consider al-Guerbouzi, who has British and Moroccan nationality, to be the founder and principal recruiter of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group. He was given asylum in Britain.
The suspect was convicted in
The British tabloid The Daily Mail appeared on Saturday with a front-page banner headline: “Is Moroccan mastermind of the plot?”
In the Aljazeera footage al-Guerbouzi is heard speaking while his face is barely visible through a celluloid shadow the television network used to shield his face.
He said he did not want to be shown so to avoid public harassment after his picture was published in Saturday’s papers.
The reporter who interviewed him confirmed it was al-Guerbouzi by checking his passport.
The London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported that al-Guerbouzi settled in the United Kingdom with his family in 1974.
It said he was close to a group that used to send Muslim volunteers to Bosnia to fight the Serbs during the Yugoslavia civil war and to Chechnya to fight the Russians.
The paper also quoted him as saying in an old interview that he opposed “suicide bombings”.
“My position is clear. I won’t accept for a person to go into a restaurant or a hotel and blow himself up,” he was quoted as saying.