Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet (AFP)
Spanish officials say they’ve identified the ringleader of the Madrid bombings. From AP:
A Tunisian being sought under an international arrest warrant is the leader of the group suspected of carrying out the March 11 railway bombings in Madrid, according to court documents released Thursday.
The investigation into the bombings that killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800 has focused on the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.
The court documents identify Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet as “leader and coordinator of the different people implicated” in the attacks.
Sarhane was one of six men named on international arrest warrants issued by Judge Juan del Olmo on Wednesday. Others were Moroccans Jamal Ahmidan, alias El Chino; Said Berraj; Abdennabi Kounjaa, alias Abdallah; Mohammed Oulad Akcha, and his brother Rachid Oulad Akcha.
Del Olmo’s documents said all are wanted for murder and belonging to a terrorist group.
The document said Moroccan suspect Berraj met with three al-Qaida suspects in Istanbul in October 2000 and had ties with Basel Ghayoun, a Syrian, who is already jailed on charges of mass murder and belonging to a terrorist organization in relation to the Madrid attacks.
Two days after the attacks, police found a videotape in which a man claiming to speak on behalf of al-Qaida said the group carried out the bombings in reprisal for Spain’s collaboration with the United States and “crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Police believe some of the chief perpetrators are already in custody.
Spanish police are holding 19 people, 14 of whom have been charged. Excluding Otman El Gnaout, a detainee whose nationality has not been announced, there are 11 Moroccans or Moroccan-born Spaniards, two Indians, two Spaniards and three Syrians in custody.