A connection between more conventional crime and terrorism. From The Telegraph, :
The Moroccan-dominated al-Qa’eda cells responsible for terrorist attacks in Spain were funded by bank robberies and sophisticated cashpoint machine fraud in France, investigators believe.
Security officials suspect that the Moroccan-dominated cells based in Spain were sent hundreds of thousands of pounds by fellow extremists on the French side of the border, suggesting the al-Qa’eda bombings in Madrid last month were the result of international planning.
Last week, French police arrested Moustapha Baouchi, a Moroccan veteran of al-Qa’eda training camps in Afghanistan, where he was known for his electronics expertise. Baouchi was able to forge bank cards with information gathered using micro-cameras implanted in automatic teller machines, said one European intelligence official. The duplicate cards were then used to withdraw money.
As well as cloning cards, Baouchi’s gang staged bank robberies in France. His brother Hassan, who was also among the six “hardcore” al-Qa’eda suspects arrested in Paris, was a security guard for a bank. One delivery of cash that he was supposed to be guarding went missing early last month after the vehicle was held up by six men. The amount of money seized has not been revealed.
“These are people trained in Afghanistan to act as leaders for the network, performing different tasks in different countries, including raising money in France,” the security official said. “These plots discovered in Europe clearly identify how the network operated.”
Spanish police have not yet tracked down senior leaders of the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group, which has been blamed for the Spanish bombs that killed more than 190 people. They include Abel Azizi, who co-ordinated cells across Europe, and Karim Mejjati, who is said to be the link between the group and Ayman Al Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born senior al-Qa’eda leader.
Arrests of middle-ranking group members, however, have allowed officials to track links between cells across Europe. Last week, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that Azizi met Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet – the alleged ringleader of the train bomb gang – at the turn of the year. Fakhet, who died when the gang members blew up their apartment in Madrid before a police raid last Saturday, is believed to have been ordered by Azizi to plot the train attacks.
Spanish investigators believe that Azizi was a leading figure at camps run by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a one-legged extremist thought to be in Iraq directing the insurgency against the American-led occupation.