Trial Begins for 51 Allegedly Involved With Wave of Homicide Attacks in Morocco

A Moroccan court on Thursday opened the trial of 51 people suspected of involvement in a series of homicide bombings that rattled Casablanca in March and April.

The suspects face charges including "constituting a criminal group with the goal of preparing and committing terrorist acts" and "fabrication and possession of explosives."

Lawyers for several of the suspects asked their clients be freed during the proceedings. All but three have been placed in provisional detention during the trial.

One of the lawyers, Khalil Al Idrissi, said his client — Hasna Moustaid, the sole woman suspect — had given birth in detention.

Judges denied all the release requests.

Following the day's proceedings, which lasted under one hour, the trial was postponed until Dec. 6 to give lawyers time to prepare their case.

In the March attack, Abdelfettah Raydi, 23, blew himself up at a Casablanca cybercafe after its owner caught him surfing an Islamist Web site.

A police investigation turned up an alleged plot involving dozens of suspects to attack Casablanca's port and police stations and tourist sites around Morocco.

In a sweep in early April, police shot one suspect dead, while three others blew themselves up to avoid capture. Days later, two others blew themselves up near the U.S. Consulate in Casablanca.

Morocco has struggled to clamp down on a wave of Islamic extremism washing over North Africa. The country, a staunch ally of the United States, first woke to the threat of terrorism in May 2003, when homicide bombers killed 45, including themselves, in Casablanca.