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Top London suspect was involved in Madrid bombing

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1688244,00.html July 10, 2005 Terror in London Mastermind of Madrid is key figure Nick Fielding and Gareth Walsh
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2005

      July 10, 2005

      Terror in London

      Mastermind of Madrid is key figure
      Nick Fielding and Gareth Walsh


      THE terrorist believed to have organised last year’s
      Madrid train attacks is emerging as a figure in the
      hunt for the London bombers.

      Spanish security sources are said to have warned four
      months ago that Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a 47-year-old
      Syrian, had identified Britain as a likely target.

      Coded commands from the Syrian, thought to have
      included threats to other European countries including
      Britain, were found in a flat raided after the Madrid
      bombings in March 2004.

      Spanish investigators said Nasar, now believed to be
      in Iraq, had set up a “sleeper” cell of terrorists in
      Britain. But they believed he was planning an attack
      to coincide with the British general election in May,
      rather than the G8 summit last week.

      One Spanish website yesterday claimed the General
      Information Commission, a Spanish police intelligence
      body, issued a report in March warning that Britain
      and Spain were the primary western targets. The
      statement was based on Spanish investigations into the
      Madrid bombings.

      In addition, investigators have noted strong
      similarities in the methods of the two multiple,
      coordinated bombings against public transport systems.

      Last Friday, a team of Spanish detectives arrived in
      London to help the Metropolitan police with the

      After last week’s explosions, police were believed to
      be looking into Mohamed el-Gerbouzi, a Moroccan living
      in London who has been jailed in Morocco in his
      absence for terrorism offences. Yesterday, however,
      senior Met officers were strongly discounting that he
      had any involvement in the London bombings.

      Nasar, from Aleppo, Syria, also known as Abu Musab
      al-Asuri, who has a $5m (£2.9m) American bounty on his
      head, is believed to have fled either to Iraq or to
      the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

      He has connections with London going back more than 10
      years, has mixed with many prominent terror suspects
      and has reportedly been arrested in Britain in
      connection with bombings on the Paris Metro.

      When Nasar moved to London in June 1995 he was already
      under surveillance by Spanish police, who made a video
      recording of his departure with his wife Elena. They
      were accompanied by Abu Dahdah, a Syrian later
      arrested in Spain, accused of recruiting bombers and
      now on trial for providing support to the 9/11

      Once in London, Nasar moved his family into a house in
      Paddock Road, Neasden. From there, he edited the Al
      Ansar magazine, a newsletter of the Algerian Armed
      Islamic Group. He became an associate of the cleric
      Abu Qatada, one of the detainees released from
      Belmarsh prison last year and accused of being
      Al-Qaeda’s ambassador to Europe.

      In January 1997 he also set up a company called
      Islamic Conflict Studies Bureau. In documentation
      filed at Companies House, Nasar describes his
      nationality as British.

      His co-director in the company is named as Mohamed
      Bahaiah. Bahaiah is known to have been an Al-Qaeda
      courier in Afghanistan, where he is believed to have
      been responsible for delivering videotapes to foreign
      news media. Tayssir Alouni, a correspondent for the
      Arabic television news channel Al-Jazeera, claims to
      have met both men in Kabul in the late 1990s.

      Nasar was reported to have been arrested by British
      police following the 1995 bomb attacks on the Paris
      Metro, but later released. The American Department of
      Justice said this weekend that Nasar had “served as a
      European intermediary for Al-Qaeda” before leaving for
      Afghanistan in 1998.

      He is now believed to be an associate of Abu Musab
      al-Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda chief in Iraq. Some reports
      claim he has been spotted in London since the Madrid

      Nasar is at the centre of a network of connections
      uncovered by British and Spanish police between
      Britain and the Madrid atrocities.

      One of the last phone calls made by a group of seven
      bombers cornered in a police siege of a flat near
      Madrid was to a British Muslim cleric using the name
      Ben Salawi. After the call the bombers blew themselves
      up, apparently at his command. British police said the
      cleric’s name was not known to them but may have been
      an alias.

      Last March a Syrian-born man was arrested and accused
      of helping indoctrinate the Madrid bombers, following
      a raid on his home in Slough, Berkshire. Moutaz
      Almallah Dabas, 39, is accused of renting a flat in
      Madrid where the men received initial training. Dabas,
      a Spanish citizen, is fighting extradition to Spain.

      He was detained just 24 hours after his brother,
      Mohammad Almallah Dabas, was arrested by police in
      Spain. Lawyers acting for the Spanish authorities told
      a court that Moutaz Dabas had housed radical Islamists
      at a house in Madrid he owned with his brother.

      “In that house, Dabas and others kept texts referring
      to and published by Osama Bin Laden for distribution
      and encouraged those who attended to pledge their
      affinity to the jihad ideology of Osama Bin Laden,”
      they told the court.

      Others arrested in connection with the Madrid bombings
      and linked to Britain include Jamal Zougam, 31, a
      Moroccan believed to have visited contacts in London
      seeking funding, fake identities and logistical help
      for the terrorists.

      Spanish prosecutors believe two Moroccan men who blew
      themselves up during the Spanish siege also spent time
      in London.

      Within hours of the London attacks responsibility for
      them was claimed in an internet statement by a
      previously unknown group calling itself the Secret
      Organisation Group of Al-Qaeda.

      Yesterday, a second claim of responsibility was made
      by Abu Hafs al Masri Brigades, which also claimed the
      Madrid bombings: “We will not rest until security
      becomes a reality in the land of Islam in Iraq,
      Afghanistan and Palestine.”
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