MADRID, Spain – A Spaniard with a criminal record led four Moroccans to an explosives warehouse at a mine to steal dynamite used in the Madrid terror bombings, a newspaper reported Saturday.
The unidentified Spaniard, a former miner in the northern Asturias (search) region, was among five people arrested Thursday. He insisted he only led the Moroccans to the warehouse and did not help with the robbery or know the Moroccans had Islamic extremist links, El Pais reported, quoting police sources.
The Spaniard has a record for drug and weapons possession, the newspaper said. The Moroccans remain at large and have not been identified, it added.
Interior Ministry officials could not be reached to comment on the report.
The March 11 train bombings killed 202 people and wounded more than 1,800, making it Spain's deadliest terrorist attack. Suspicion has centered on Moroccan extremists said to be linked to Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda (search) group, which carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
In a videotape, a man claiming to speak on behalf of Al Qaeda said the group carried out the attack in reprisal for Spain's backing of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
The Spaniard arrested in Asturias told police he had met the four Moroccans in January in a bar in the Lavapies district of Madrid, El Pais said.
That's where one suspect, Jamal Zougam, had a cellular telephone store to which police have traced a cell phone found attached to a bomb that failed to explode.
The Moroccans told the Spaniard they ran a mine in Morocco but had trouble obtaining explosives. The Spaniard offered to help them get dynamite, and in return was apparently given drugs, El Pais said.
The Spaniard met with the Moroccans in the Asturian town of Aviles in late February and led them to an explosives warehouse at a mine, the report said. The explosives were stolen on or about Feb. 29, the paper said.
The Spaniard was arrested Thursday in Aviles, El Pais said. Four Moroccans were also arrested Thursday outside Madrid.
Police think all or part of the estimated 220 pounds of dynamite used in the Madrid bombings came from that warehouse, the paper said.
On Friday, a Spanish judge jailed Zougam and two other Moroccans on 190 counts of murder. That reflects the number of bodies identified so far. Two Indians were jailed on charges of collaborating with a terrorist group. All five suspects were arrested two days after the bombings.
The judge's order stops short of a formal indictment and means the suspects can be held for up to two years while police gather more evidence.
Many Spaniards have accused the Spain's conservative government of provoking the rail bombings by supporting the Iraq war. The ruling Popular Party fell in a surprise defeat by the Socialists in general elections on March 14.
Zougam and the other four were held in solitary confinement, with no access to lawyers or news, until their interrogation began Thursday night. The newspaper El Mundo reported Saturday that the first thing Zougam asked the judge was who had won the election.
Also Saturday, the Socialist Party said the man expected to be Spain's next foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, told U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell Friday that the incoming government was firm in its plan to withdraw the 1,300 Spanish troops stationed in Iraq unless the United Nations takes charge there.