Pubdate: Thu, 15 Apr 2004
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Copyright: 2004 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Author: Mar Roman
Bookmark: (Terrorism)


Madrid, Spain - The perpetrators of the Madrid train bombings were members 
of an autonomous cell who may have had ties with fundamentalists elsewhere 
but received their financing chiefly from drug profits, Interior Minister 
Angel Acebes said yesterday.

Officials are investigating the possibility that someone with a deeper 
grounding in radical Islam - and perhaps terrorist training in Afghanistan 
or elsewhere - was the overall leader of the March 11 attacks that killed 
191 people, but are not sure such a person even exists, Acebes said.

Spain has received a letter and a video from an al-Qaeda-linked group 
claiming responsibility for the Madrid attacks that warned of more violence 
unless Sp[anish troops were withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Officials 
believe that the group was largely confined to Spain and that most of its 
members are either in custody or dead.

The on-the-ground coordinator of the attacks is believed to have been 
Serhane Ben Abdel-majid Fakhet, 35, a Tunisian real estate agent who blew 
himself up with six other suspects April 3 as police moved in to arrest 
them, Acebes told a news conference.

Acebes said the cell that staged the March 11 attacks "was local and 
autonomous, but its leaders have connections with other fundamentalist 
groups."  He said investigators were pursuing leads in Britain, Germany, 
France, Belgium, Tunisia and Morocco.

The group's funding came chiefly from drug sales, Acebes said.  The bombers 
apparently obtained the dynamite from petty criminals in a coal-mining 
region of northern Spain who accepted drugs as payment, he said.

The bombers also used proceeds from drug sales to rent an apartment, buy a 
car, and purchase cell phones used as detonators in the bombs, Acebes 
said.  He gave no figure on how much money that bombers had raised through 
the drug sales.

Acebes said the core of the bombers' cell had been neutralized through a 
wave of arrests and the deaths of the suspects who committed suicide.  He 
declined to rule out future attacks by cell members till at large.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager