Menu

ARCHIVE

Report: Spain Finds Bombing Suspects' Fingerprints

Spanish police searching a rural house believed to have been used to prepare the Madrid (search) commuter train bombs found fingerprints from two prime suspects currently detained for the March 11 attacks, according to news reports Saturday.

Police also recovered detonators and traces of dynamite inside the house near Morata de Tajuna (search), 20 miles southeast of Madrid, Spanish media reported.

The fingerprints found in the house were from Jamal Zougam and Abderrahim Zbakh, two Moroccans considered prime suspects in the bombings, which killed 190 people and wounded more than 1,800, radio station Onda Cero (search) and Spanish national television reported.

Zougam and Zbakh, who were arrested in the first week after Spain's worst terror attack, are being held on charges of mass murder.

Spanish court documents have linked Zougam to members of an al-Qaida cell in Spain. A French private investigator told The Associated Press that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian linked to al-Qaida and suspected of heading a terrorist network in Iraq, is now believed to have been the brains behind the Madrid railway attacks.

Jean-Charles Brisard said Spanish officials told him some suspects held in the March 11 attacks were in contact with al-Zarqawi as recently as a month or two before the bombings.

Brisard is a recognized expert on Islamic terrorism. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on the issue and has strong connections with police investigators on both sides of the Atlantic.

Spanish investigators believe six or seven of the 18 people now in custody in Spain helped plan the Madrid attacks and that al-Zarqawi was behind the plot, Brisard said.

Authorities have analyzed a videotape found in Madrid in which a man claiming to speak on behalf of al-Qaida said the group carried out the Madrid attacks in reprisal for Spain's backing of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Police believe the attackers used the Spanish house, discovered a week ago, to prepare the explosives and stuff them into knapsacks, media reports said.

The Interior Ministry did not answer calls seeking confirmation Saturday.

Police have arrested 21 people since the bombs ripped through four commuter trains during morning rush-hour.

Twelve of the 21 suspects have been charged with mass murder or belonging to or collaborating with a terrorist group.

Three former suspects have been released and another six suspects will go before a judge at the National Court next week.

Also Saturday, Judge Del Olmo lifted the solitary confinement order he imposed on nine of the 12 suspects charged, Onda Cero said.

Three detainees, including Zougam, have not had access to lawyers or family since being arrested March 13, two days after the bombings.

No official at the jail or Interior Ministry could be contacted to confirm the report. No explanation was given for the lifting of the confinement order.

The national news agency Efe said Del Olmo visited the jail Friday with some witnesses of the bombings for a recognition lineup of the detainees. There were no details on the result of the lineup.

The probe has spread to Germany, which, along with Spain, is believed to have been a key staging ground for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In Germany, police raided an apartment Thursday in Darmstadt where a Moroccan suspect arrested this week in Madrid stayed briefly last year. The 28-year-old man, who was not identified, is suspected of membership in a foreign terrorist organization, a prosecutor said.

But German officials said they had no evidence the Madrid attacks were planned or prepared in Germany.

Morocco, the native country of at least nine of the suspects, reported its first arrests in the case, although a senior official said they had not yielded significant information.