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British links of bombing suspect

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This is LONDON
16/03/04 - News and city section

British links of bombing suspect
By Justin Davenport, Evening Standard Crime Correspondent

Growing evidence emerged today of links between a prime suspect in the Madrid bombings and al Qaeda suspects with connections to London.

Jamal Zougam, 30, was arrested by Spanish police at the weekend after a witness claimed to have seen him on one of the bombed trains.

Zougam, who has been under surveillance as a terror suspect, is known to have attended an Afghan training camp set up by Osama bin Laden. Among the material found at his home were telephone numbers of Islamic militants, including four al Qaeda suspects who visited or lived in London. These included the alleged mastermind of the Casablanca bombing last year which killed 43 people.

Today it emerged that Spanish police may have identified six Moroccans as the bombers who blew up the four commuter trains in Madrid. Five of the men are still at large but the sixth is Zougam, known in the Madrid suburb where he lives as "the Angel".

Police sources are reported as saying the six Moroccans may have formed only part of the group which carried out the attacks and they suspect militants from other nationalities were involved.

Two hundred people died and 1,500 others were wounded when the bombs exploded during the Thursday morning rush-hour. One report suggested that the mastermind behind the attack was Jordanian national Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, one of Washington's prime suspects for a string of bomb attacks in Iraq.

Scotland Yard anti-terrorist branch detectives arrived in Madrid today to liaise with Spanish police. They are expected to exchange information on the terror network stretching between London, Paris and Madrid which is defined by suspects who once trained at the former Afghan training camps.

Police are investigating a series of phone calls made to London from a mobile phone shop owned by Zougam. The Yard detectives will be trying to establish if Zougam himself ever travelled to Britain.

Among his known associates are Frenchman David Courtellier, whose trial opens in Paris tomorrow, where he faces charges of criminal association in connection with a terrorist group that recruited fighters for Afghanistan through the mid-Nineties.

Courtellier, the brother of Jerome Courtellier, who was acquitted in 2002 of plotting an attack on the US Embassy in Paris, once lived in the flat in Brixton of September 11 suspect Zacharias Moussaoui. The Frenchman is also believed to have visited the Finsbury Park mosque.

When Zougam's Madrid flat was searched, officers found videos of a Moroccan terror suspect who is known to have entered Spain using a bogus British passport. Police are also probing links between Zougam and Abu Dahdah. Dahdah is known to have met the London-based cleric Abu Qatada, known as Bin Laden's "European ambassador", who is being held in Belmarsh jail under anti-terror legislation.

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