RABAT, (Reuters) – Moroccan police have arrested the head of the military wing of the country’s main Jihadist group, whom they suspect of involvement in bombings in Casablanca and Madrid, security sources said on Friday.
Saad Houssaini, 38, the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group’s (MICG) military committee chief, was arrested late on Thursday in Casablanca and is being held for investigation, the sources said.
Houssaini is suspected of preparing 13 suicide bombs which killed 45 people in Casablanca, Morocco’s commercial capital, in 2003. Moroccan authorities also suspect he played a role in the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004.
Morocco is on high alert after a string of bomb attacks last month in neighbouring Algeria.
Governments in the region fear violence may spill over from Algeria after the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) renamed itself Al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb with the aim of fusing similar Islamist groups together.
Terrorism experts believe the MICG is one of the small Jihadist factions in the Maghreb to join.
Security sources said Moroccan police were hunting for suspected al Qaeda members who may have infiltrated the country from Algeria. But they added that Houssaini had been sought since 2002 as part of Morocco’s role in the global fight against terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.