04/02 - Bomb found on rail line in Spain - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

04/02 - Bomb found on rail line in Spain

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Posted: Friday, April 2, 2004 10:10 am | Updated: 5:13 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

MADRID, Spain - Police found a bomb Friday under the tracks of Spain's bullet train line between Madrid and Seville, the interior minister said, less than a month after a deadly commuter rail attack.

Bomb-disposal experts alerted by a railway employee found the 26-pound bomb about 40 miles south of Madrid, Interior Minister Angel Acebes said.

The explosives were connected to a detonator with a 450-foot cable, the minister told a news conference.

He said initial analysis suggested the bomb might contain a Spanish brand of explosive called Goma 2 Eco - the explosive used in the March 11 backpack bombs.

"Because of its color and texture, it might be Goma 2 Eco," Acebes said. "Now it is going to be analyzed but the specialists say it might be Goma 2 Eco."

Acebes said it was not clear who was behind the bombing.

The tracks are used by Spain's Ave trains, which can reach speeds of 186 mph.

Friday was a busy travel day in Spain, with trains and highways full of people leaving home for Easter vacation, but the state rail company RENFE said no train was close to the bomb when it was found.

Bomb disposal experts disarmed the bomb, reports said.

On March 11, 10 backpack bombs ripped through four commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and injuring more than 1,800. The focus of the investigation is a Moroccan extremist group with links to al-Qaida. The bombs were detonated with cell phones attached to the explosives.

Also on Friday, a judge freed three men who had been arrested in connection with the March 11 bombings, court officials said.

Judge Juan del Olmo ordered the release of two Syrian detainees, Walid Altaraki and Mohamad Badr Ddin Akkad, and Moroccan Fouad Almorabit.

The officials also said witnesses to the March 11 attacks had recognized three jailed suspects at a prison lineup Thursday night. News reports said two of those recognized were Jamal Zougam, a Moroccan prime suspect, and Basel Ghayoun, a Syrian. Both have been charged with mass murder.

Sixteen people are in custody, 14 of whom have been charged.

Del Olmo has issued international arrest warrants for five Moroccans and a Tunisian, Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, described as leader of the group suspected of carrying out Spain's worst terrorist attack. The attack killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800.

The warrant for Fakhet does not suggest he was overall organizer of the attacks. Nor does it give many details about his alleged role.

The court documents said Fakhet, 35, had been an active campaigner for "jihad," or holy war, among some of the suspects already in custody, and as early as mid-2003 had shown signs of preparing a violent act in Spain - specifically the Madrid area - "as a demonstration of the said jihad."

The warrant said Fakhet had helped arrange the rental of the house outside Madrid where investigators say the bombs were assembled, and that four others among the six on the warrant list had been at the house.

Altaraki and Ddin Akkad, the Syrians released Friday, told the judge they knew Fakhet but had no direct ties to him.

Almorabit had been detained and released earlier in the week but was brought back to the court to clear up an unspecified point in his testimony. Almorabit shared a flat with Ghayoun.

He was ordered to appear before the court periodically while the Syrians must keep the court informed of where they live.

The government said Tuesday the investigation was focused on the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, forerunner of Salafia Jihadia, which Morocco blamed for bombings in Casablanca that killed 33 people and 12 suicide bombers last year.

But the arrest warrants made public Thursday did not mention the group.

Two people, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Abdelkrim Mejjati, have been named as possible top organizers. Neither was among the six names on the international warrants.

Besides Fakhet, those named in the warrants were Moroccans Jamal Ahmidan, alias El Chino; Said Berraj; Abdennabi Kounjaa, alias Abdallah; Mohammed Oulad Akcha, and his brother Rachid Oulad Akcha.

French investigator Jean-Charles Brisard said last week that Spanish officials saw al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian linked to al-Qaida, as the brains behind the bombings.

Spanish news media have also quoted Moroccan intelligence sources as saying Mejjati, a Moroccan, was the on-the-ground organizer and had been in Madrid three days before the train attacks. But Moroccan authorities told The Associated Press it was not clear what role he had played in the bombings.

The warrants made only one mention of the al-Qaida terrorist network. They said Berraj met with three al-Qaida suspects in Istanbul in October 2000. They said he also had ties with the jailed Syrian Ghayoun.

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