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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 20:49 GMT 21:49 UK
Morocco terror claim prompts questions
Damaged Belgian consulate in Casablanca
One bomb hit the Belgian consulate
Authorities in Morocco are questioning the editor of a weekly newspaper that published a group's claim of responsibility for last month's suicide attacks in Casablanca.

A previously unknown group, al-Saiqa (thunderbolt), said it had carried out the attacks but had not meant to hurt civilians.

It blamed what it called a government spy for changing the targets at the last minute.

Moustafa al-Alawi, the editor of al-Ousbouu newspaper, faces charges of spreading panic and disinformation.

He told the BBC that the statement had been posted to his office. He rejected the allegation that it had caused any panic.

In its brief statement, al-Saiqa said its aim had been to target Moroccan and American intelligence agents.

But the man leading the operation had turned out to be an infiltrator from the Moroccan intelligence services, it said.

Five bombs went off within minutes of each other in the centre of Casablanca on 16 May. Twelve suicide bombers were among 43 people killed.


According to the alleged group's statement, the plan was to assassinate a Moroccan judge and detonate a car bomb to kill a group of American and Moroccan intelligence agents who were at a hotel in central Casablanca.

But, the statement added, the government agent changed the plan at a late stage and civilians, including a number of Europeans, were killed and injured.

The public prosecutor of the Casablanca Court of Appeal said on Thursday that the publication of the statement in al-Ousbouu was a "violation of the anti-terrorism law".

Other Moroccan newspapers had declined to run the statement, the prosecutor said.

"The publication... is a breach to public order and security and a cunning means to spread panic among citizens and doubt on the conditions in which these dastardly attacks were perpetrated," the prosecutor added.

  • The appeal hearing of Moroccan journalist Ali Lamrabet, jailed for four years for slandering King Mohammed VI, has been adjourned to 10 June after judges refused to release him provisionally.

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