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Three More Moroccans Arrested In Madrid Train Bombings Case

The New York Times -- MADRID

A 28-year-old Moroccan aeronautical engineering student was charged Monday with involvement in the train bombings last month in Madrid, and the police announced the arrest of three more Moroccans in connection with the attacks.

After two hours of questioning on Monday, Judge Juan del Olmo, who is leading the investigation of the train bombings, formally charged the student, Fouad el-Mourabit, with “collaborating with an armed group.”

Underscoring the complexity of the inquiry into Spain’s terror networks, another Spanish judge and a team from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were questioning suspects at the same time in the same courthouse in two separate but related terror investigations.

Del Olmo had already detained, questioned and released Mourabit twice since March 11. But the police concluded from Mourabit’s cell phone records that he had spoken with most of the men who had thus far been identified at the core of the plot.

The calls, an official with the National Court told reporters, “proved he had close relations with almost all those who are under arrest or dead.” Mourabit, she added, made phone calls to them before and on the day of the bombings on March 11.

She added that Mourabit was well acquainted with Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, 37, a Tunisian who is believed to have been the operational head of the plot and who died along with several others in a suicide bombing as the police were closing in on their apartment.

Until last year Mourabit shared an apartment with one of the suicide bombers, and then he moved in with Basel Ghayoun, a Syrian who is also under arrest on charges of involvement in the March 11 bombings, the official said.

Mourabit maintained his innocence on Monday, telling the judge in Spanish that he had no idea his friends had been involved in the plot. One floor above, Judge Baltasar Garzon was continuing his examination of Muhammad Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi, accused of financing attacks by al-Qaida, at Zouaydi’s request.

Garzon indicted Osama bin Laden and 34 others, including Zouaydi, in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, which were partly planned in Spain. Zouaydi’s lawyer, Manuel Tuero, explained that his client, who has been held since November 2001, had asked to respond to various charges against him.

On the same floor, a group of Bush administration lawyers and investigators began a week of questioning in connection with a terrorist inquiry in the United States, under a treaty that the United States has with Spain and other close allies.

One U.S. official said that inquiry was unrelated to the Madrid train bombings, which he called “a completely Spanish investigation.” He declined to give more information.

But a Spanish lawyer familiar with the case said the Americans were in Madrid to question two Algerians, Khaled Madani, 33, and Moussa Laouar, 36, about their possible involvement in the Sept. 11 plot. They are suspected of providing false passports to Mohamed Atta and Ramzi Binalshibh, two of the central Sept. 11 plotters.

In another development on Monday, the police announced the arrests of Ibrahim al-Fallah, Hassan Belhadj and Said Aharouch, all of whom had been linked to the men who blew themselves up on April 3.