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Morocco Arrests Al-Qaeda Suspect in Marrakesh Bombing Investigation

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Morocco Arrests Al-Qaeda Suspect in Marrakesh Bombing Investigation

Authorities in Morocco arrested their prime suspect and two alleged accomplices in an April 28 bombing that killed 17 people when a blast tore through Cafe Argana in Marrakesh’s central square.

The blast also injured 20 people. Most of the victims were European.

The bombing was widely condemned by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, all three of whom praised Moroccan authorities for their thoroughness in investigating the deadly attack. Eight French nationals were among those killed.

Authorities caught up with three suspects in in Safi, which is roughly 220 miles south of Casablanca. The lead suspect has been linked to al-Qaeda and according to the foreign ministry, constructed two explosives, chose the location and detonated the devices using a mobile phone.

The Interior Ministry also believes the accused attacker picked Cafe Argana because it is popular among vacationing Westerners.

Existing Leads in the Case

It looks like the suspected bombers learned how to make the device on the Internet, and authorities describe them as being “absorbed by jihadist ideology.”

Evidence shows they made a few attempts to join other al-Qaeda fighters in in Chechnya and Iraq before deciding on Morocco to carry out an attack.

The authorities’ reaction was subdued compared with the 2003 bombing in Casablanca, when hundreds of Muslims were rounded up and arrested indiscriminately.

Islamic leaders in the area say they are glad authorities acted with restraint. The 2003 bombing killed 45 people.

So far, Morocco has been mostly spared of widespread protests and anti-government revolts that have gripped the Arab world lately. However, three protests since February prompted the government to promise reform as King Mohammed VI tries to avoid widespread protests.

The country is home to 32 million people with an economy heavily dependent on tourism.

Originally published on

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