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Spain issues bomb arrest warrants

From Al Goodman
CNN Madrid Bureau Chief

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Madrid bombing suspects, clockwise from top left: Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, Said Berraj, Jamal Ahmidan, Rachid Oulad Akcha, Abdennabi Kounjaa and Mohammed Oulad Akcha

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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish National Court judge has issued international arrest warrants for six suspects in the Madrid train bombings, as the investigation focuses on the shadowy Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM).

The Interior Ministry said five of the suspects are Moroccan men, including two brothers. A third man is related to other Moroccans previously arrested. The sixth man sought is a Tunisian.

In releasing the suspects' names and photographs to the news media Wednesday, the ministry appealed to the public to call police emergency telephone numbers if they have any information on the six men.

Separately, court sources confirmed the arrest of a man identified as Otman el Gnaout. No nationality was provided. He was detained Tuesday in Madrid but the arrest only became known Wednesday.

Sources also said police searched a flat Tuesday in the eastern Moratalaz neighborhood of Madrid.

The six men sought on international warrants include Jamal Ahmidan, the ministry said.

A Moroccan, Ahmidan is related to Mustafa Ahmidam, who was being arraigned Wednesday, and Hamid Ahmidam, who has been charged in the bombing case, the ministry said.

The two Moroccan brothers being sought are Mohammed Oulad Akcha and Rachid Oulad Akcha.

The other Moroccans sought are Said Berraj and Abdennabi Kounjaa. The Tunisian sought is Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, the ministry said.

Earlier Wednesday, a court spokeswoman told CNN there had been just five international arrest warrants issued by Judge Juan del Olmo, who is handling the Madrid bombing investigation.

But the Interior Ministry later said the court issued six warrants, not just five.

Spanish media had earlier reported that one of the men sought was a Moroccan named Abdelkarim el Mejjati. His name has also been spelled as Abdelkarim Mayati and Karim al-Tuhami al-Mujati, but no one under any of those names was listed in the photographs released by the Interior Ministry.

The court spokeswoman declined to say if al-Mujati was on the list of the international warrants.

Spanish media reports link al-Mujati to the GICM, the group with Islamic fundamentalist beliefs that Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes named Tuesday as the suspected principal architect of the bombings.

The GICM is on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations.

Ten of the 14 people charged in the March 11 bombings in Spain are Moroccan nationals. Other Moroccans are in custody or being sought, officials have told CNN.

Moroccan Fouad El Morabit, who was released without charges Tuesday, was re-arrested hours later, the court spokeswoman said.

The court said Morabit had taken higher education courses, including electronics studies, in Spain and Germany.

He also shared an apartment in Madrid with a Syrian man, Basel Ghayoun, who has been charged in the bombing case with 190 counts of murder and with belonging to a terrorist group.

In addition to the 14 people charged, six others in custody were due for arraignment. Arraignments began for two of them Wednesday afternoon before Judge del Olmo, the court spokeswoman said.

They are Antonio Toro Castro of Spain and Mustafa Ahmidam from Morocco.

Castro is the brother-in-law of the only other Spaniard arrested in the case, Jose Emilio Suarez. Suarez has been charged with collaborating with a terrorist organization and with one count of theft of explosives or permitting their removal.

Investigators say they have linked Suarez to Moroccan men believed to have taken explosives from Spain's northern coal mining region, where Suarez once worked.

Moroccan, German, British and American police and intelligence services have been cooperating with Spain on the investigation, officials have told CNN.

Possible link discovered

In another development, National Court prosecutor Pedro Rubira indicated that a cell phone found in the search of the home of an Islamic terror suspect in custody in Spain had been altered in the same way as cell phones used in the Madrid train bombings and in the October 2002 Bali bombings, another court official told CNN.

As a result, Rubira asked National Court Judge Baltasar Garzon to indict that terror suspect and three others. The four are currently being held in Spain but not as a direct result of the Madrid train bombings.

The prosecutor wants them indicted on charges of belonging to a terrorist group, possession of explosives and forging documents, the court official said.

The prosecutor is intrigued by the similarity in cell phone manipulation, which might indicate that terrorist suspects have been communicating with each other about bombing techniques that include the use of altered cell phones, the court official said.

More than 180 people died in the Bali bombings and the official death count in the Madrid bombings is 190.

The four suspects for whom the prosecutors seek indictments were among 16 men who were arrested in January 2003 and at the time linked to possible Islamic terrorist activities.

Authorities then suspected the men might have explosives or other dangerous substances but an analysis later showed the material was simply cleaning detergent, and the men were released. But four were later rearrested.


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