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Madrid detainee may have al Qaeda link


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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- One of the five men identified Sunday as suspects in last week's terrorist attacks in Madrid has been linked to the alleged ringleader of al Qaeda in Spain.

The name of Jamal Zougam, 30, a Moroccan, appears several times in an indictment issued last September by Spanish Judge Balthazar Garzon.

Though Zougam himself was not indicted, he is listed as being a follower of Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, whom the indictment alleged to be the ringleader of al Qaeda in Spain.

Zougam's name was among the five identified Sunday by the Spanish Interior Ministry as being held in connection with last Thursday's bombings, in which 200 people were killed.

In addition to Zougam, the men identified were Mohamed Bekkali, 31; and Mohamed Cahoui, 34, both of Morocco; and Indians Vinay Kohly and Sureh Komar. No ages were given for Kohly and Komar.

The Moroccans all have police records, Spain's interior minister said. The five have not been charged.

Interior Minister Angel Acebes said one of the Moroccans is linked to a homicide investigation, but was not suspected of being the killer. He did not say which man he was referring to.

All five are being held incommunicado under Spain's anti-terrorism law, which requires they be charged within five days of their detention.

Authorities said investigators tracked the men through a cellular telephone and a pre-paid telephone card found in a backpack containing explosives that was found shortly after Thursday's attacks.

Acebes said searches of the suspects' homes turned up a number of cellular phones, leading investigators to believe that the men may have been involved in their sale.

Acebes also said investigators had not verified the authenticity of a videotape purportedly claiming responsibility for the attacks on behalf of al Qaeda.

The tape was recorded by a man speaking Arabic with a Moroccan accent and claiming to be the military spokesman for the terrorist group in Europe, he said.

Investigators have been in contact with their counterparts across Europe, Acebes said, and all have drawn a blank on the man, who identified himself as Abu Dujan al Afgani.

The attacks have stirred concern throughout Europe's leadership. German Interior Minister Otto Schily has called for a meeting of European interior ministers, a move Acebes said he supported.

Thursday's bombings -- 10 bombs, packed into backpacks, on four trains at three stations -- killed 200 people and wounded more than 1,500.

Spain initially focused its investigation on the Basque militant separatist group ETA, and later said the search was following two tracks -- one focusing on ETA and a second on Islamic extremists.

On Saturday night -- the eve of national elections -- thousands of Spaniards gathered in front of the ruling Popular Party's headquarters, accusing the government of focusing on ETA for political gain. The PP has been staunch in its efforts to fight ETA.

"No more cover-ups," read one banner carried by the protesters.

ETA, which has killed about 800 people in its 36-year battle for a separate Basque homeland, has denied responsibility for the attacks.

ETA has been severely crippled by the harsh government crackdown, which has resulted the arrests of an estimated two-thirds of a group that Basque officials say probably had little more than 1,000 members before the crackdown.

But, those officials in the northern Basque region said they feared the bombings could be the work of a splinter group of younger, more radical separatists, perhaps working in alliance with terrorists from other ideologies.

The European Union and the United States have designated ETA a terrorist organization.

Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman and Correspondent Diana Muriel contributed to this report.


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