Boulanour and Abdelhadi
Madrid suspect Jamal Zougam isn’t a terrorist: he’s just an ordinary guy who goes to a gym. He was targeted because he’s a Muslim and has a beard, you see. This kind of thing would be much more effective if every Muslim who ever gets arrested weren’t portrayed as an ordinary guy who has fallen victim to racism. Here’s a fine example of journalistic dhimmitude from the Sydney Morning Herald (thanks to Jean-Luc).
“Do I look like a terrorist to you?” asks Mohamed Boulanour, an Algerian immigrant, smiling yet deadly serious.
“If you are Muslim they accuse you of being a terrorist. I had problems with the police a month ago, but thanks to my lawyer they had to let me go. They were saying I was part of al-Qaeda because I have a beard.”
Mr Boulanour, 40, now has much more than that. He has a notorious neighbour, the chief suspect in Madrid’s train bombings, Jamal Zougam, who has been arrested with two other Moroccans in connection to the mobile phones used to detonate the 10 backpack bombs that killed 200 people.
Authorities have previously linked Mr Zougam, 30, to the al-Qaeda cell that helped plan the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Yesterday his alleged involvement in the Madrid bombing strengthened after police interviewed a new witness who claimed to have seen him leaving a backpack on one of the ill-fated trains. The backpack did not explode, providing investigators with vital clues to the identity of the bombers.
In the city’s poor, crime- and drug-ridden Lavapies district, the home to thousands of North African Islamic migrants, Mr Zougam was known as a muscular, gym-loving and devout man who ran the popular Nuevo Siglo (New Century) mobile phone shop. It is now locked, the shutters down.
Moroccan-born Joudi Abdelhadi, 37, who owns a nearby grocery, said: “He was just an ordinary guy who worked and tried to make a living. He struggled like the rest of us because he is an immigrant.”
Neither Mr Abdelhadi nor Mr Boulanour claimed they knew Mr Zougam intimately, although the rundown, narrow Tribulete street is a place where neighbours appear to look out for each other. But Hussan Serouth, 24, a hairdresser, said: “He’s not a terrorist. He’s my friend. We go to the gym together.
“He was picked up two years ago because he knew one of these bearded guys who was supposed to be with al-Qaeda. The police have picked him up again because of that. Proof in Spain is like a dog fighting a cat.”
None of the Tribulete men, who were all friendly and seemingly open, had nothing but condemnation for the Madrid bombers. “The bombings were a terrorist act and those who have done it deserve the death penalty,” Mr Abdelhadi said. “But you have to put a full stop after terrorist. They are not Islamic terrorists or Christian terrorists.”
Abdelhadi must know how sweet that statement sounds to Western multicultural ears. But where is the global network of Christian terrorists, justifying their murders with the Bible and Christian theology? The fact that there is such a network of Muslims, but not of Christians, is not politically correct but it is no accident. Until Muslims reform and reject the doctrines that give rise to this network, terrorism will continue.
Meanwhile, from AP (with thanks to Nicolei), a story about the gym-going Zougam’s terror ties:
Spanish authorities knew as early as 2001 that Jamal Zougam, a central suspect in the Madrid bombings, had contacts with accused terrorists linked to al-Qaida, an investigator told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Despite his suspicious ties, Zougam maneuvered with ease in Spain while making extensive contacts with key militants, from the alleged leader of the Spanish al-Qaida cell to a Kurdish guerrilla group in Iraq, according to court documents and wiretapped conversations.
Zougam also traveled back and forth to his hometown of Tangiers, Morocco, which he left on April 20, 2003 – just weeks before a deadly bombing in Casablanca, Morocco killed 45 people, including 12 attackers.
Zougam was placed under surveillance after the Casablanca bombings, Moroccan officials told AP. He was one of three Moroccans arrested over the weekend after Thursday’s bombings in Madrid, which killed 201 people.
Jean-Charles Brisard, a French private investigator, told AP that in a conversation wiretapped by Spanish police, Zougam and his half brother Mohamed Chaoui – also arrested in the Madrid case – were described as being close to Said Chedadi, an alleged al-Qaida member jailed in Spain.
Chedadi was arrested weeks after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States on charges that he belonged to al-Qaida and that he had a hand in the preparation and carrying out of the attacks.