NPR logo Key Suspect in Madrid Bombings Had Al Qaeda Ties

Key Suspect in Madrid Bombings Had Al Qaeda Ties

Spain Says Cell of 20 Moroccans Planned, Executed Attacks

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The closed cell phone shop run by Jamal Zougam in downtown Madrid. Zougam, who is in custody, has become a key suspect in the investigation of the March 11 train bombings. Marisa Penaloza, NPR hide caption

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Marisa Penaloza, NPR

Two women embrace as they look at candles and flowers in front of Madrid's El Pozo railway station, March 16, 2004. A banner in Spanish on the wall reads: "Wanted the world's most bloody and dangerous terrorists." It names Aznar, Bush and Blair. Reuters Limited hide caption

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Reuters Limited

Published reports in Madrid say Spanish police have identified 20 Moroccans whom they say planned and carried out the March 11 commuter train bombings that killed 201 people and wounded more than 1,500 others.

Investigators are following a trail of evidence that began with a pre-paid cell phone card, found inside a backpack along with an unexploded bomb and a cell phone wired as a detonator. Spanish police have arrested three Moroccans, including Jamal Zougam, a man in his 30s who ran a cell phone repair shop in Madrid.

Spanish officials say Zougam, who is already in custody, is a key suspect in their investigation. Two survivors of the blasts say they remember seeing him on a Madrid commuter train before the explosions. Zougam also figures in a two-year-old indictment of alleged Al Qaeda members accused of helping plan the Sept. 11 attacks.

Zougam is also linked to a suicide bombing last year in Casablanca in which more than 40 people died. Following those attacks, Moroccan police put Zougam and hundreds more Islamic fundamentalists under surveillance. Those accused in the Casablanca bombings belonged to a Moroccan al Qaeda faction. Many of the group's radical Islamist followers studied in Saudi-financed schools that sprang up in Casablanca's poor neighborhoods in the 1970s.

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On Tuesday, Spanish police detained an Algerian who is said to have discussed plans for a terrorist attack in Madrid two months ago. Investigators are seeking several more Moroccan men in connection to the bombings.