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Rediff.com  » News » UK blasts: Moroccan denies involvement

UK blasts: Moroccan denies involvement

July 12, 2005 10:53 IST
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A Moroccan dissident convicted in absentia in connection with the 2003 Casablanca terrorist attacks said he has no ties to militant Islamic groups and he accused Moroccan intelligence of planting stories that he's a possible suspect in the London bombings.

British media have reported that Mohamed al-Guerbouzi was in hiding and that British investigators asked their European counterparts for information about him. Europol has refused to comment on the reports and Metropolitan Police haven't publicly named any suspects.

"If I were in hiding where would I be talking to you from? The moon, the sky¬Ö? I am on Earth," al-Guerbouzi said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press in London on Monday, saying he was in the city. He was put in touch with AP by contacts who confirmed he was al-Guerbouzi.

Al-Guerbouzi refused a face-to-face interview unless he was paid, and he kept the telephone conversation brief. He spoke in classical Arabic with a slight Moroccan accent.

The 44-year-old was convicted in absentia in Morocco in 2003 and sentenced to 20 years in prison in connection with the Casablanca bombings, which killed 32 bystanders at five targets hit by 13 suicide bombers. Morocco has demanded his extradition from Britain.

French officials consider al-Guerbouzi, who has British and Moroccan nationality, to be the founder and principal recruiter of a Moroccan militant group, the Islamic Combatant Group.

But al-Guerbouzi said he had no ties with any militant Islamic group. He accused Moroccan intelligence of trying to label him a militant. "I do not belong to any group whatsoever," said al-Guerbouzi.
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