MADRID, Spain – Spanish police believe a top Al Qaeda operative in Europe put two key suspects in the Madrid bombings in contact with one another, a newspaper reported Friday.
Serhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet (search) of Tunisia, the alleged coordinator of the attacks, is believed to have met with Al Qaeda operative Amer Azizi (search) in Turkey in late 2002 or early 2003 to ask for fighters for an attack in Madrid, the daily El Mundo said.
Azizi, a Moroccan who remains at large, was indicted on terrorism charges last September by Judge Baltasar Garzon as part of his probe into an Al Qaeda cell he accused of helping prepare the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington.
Azizi apparently told Fakhet he could not supply men but urged him to contact Moroccan compatriot Jamal Zougam (search) in Madrid, the paper added, quoting unidentified police officials.
Zougam is one of six people charged with mass murder in the Madrid attacks, which killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800.
Fakhet was one of up to seven suspected terrorists who blew themselves up April 3 when their apartment south of Madrid was about to be stormed by police.
Good Friday was a national holiday in Spain, and government officials were not available for comment on the newspaper report.
Azizi is one of at least a half dozen suspects for whom police are searching in relation to the train massacre. Seventeen people, 13 of them Moroccan, have been charged in the case.
Also Friday, authorities said a videotape threatening more attacks unless Spanish troops leave Iraq and Afghanistan was filmed on March 27. The text of the tape was released Thursday, and some news reports initially said it was recorded by the terrorist suspects minutes before they blew themselves up April 3.
In the tape, three heavily armed men read a statement in the name of "the Al Mufti Brigades and Ansar al-Qaida" giving Spain one week to "leave Muslim lands immediately."
Spain has 1,300 troops in Iraq and 125 in Afghanistan. The incoming Socialist government has said it will withdraw the soldiers from Iraq by June 30 unless the United Nations takes control of the postwar occupation.