Morocco Bombs Could Have Been Linked To Mid-East Peace

By Mike Wendling | July 7, 2008 | 8:13 PM EDT

London ( - A series of suicide bombings that killed 41 people in Casablanca may have been designed to derail the Middle East peace process, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said after meeting his Moroccan counterpart in London on Tuesday.

Straw suggested that Morocco's support for the Middle East "road map" may have driven terrorists to attack several targets in the city.

"It is not accidental that we have had these terrorist outrages directed at Morocco, one of the most modern and advanced of Arab societies, and also the terrorist outrages in Israel timed to kill Israelis but also to undermine the peace process," Straw told reporters at a press conference after the meeting.

The Moroccan foreign minister, Mohammed Benaissa, said the attacks were part of a "wave of terrorism against change in the Middle East."

Moroccan authorities say the attacks, which killed 29 people along with the 12 suicide bombers on Friday, were the work of Islamic groups affiliated with al Qaeda. Benaissa said all the bombers were Moroccans but that foreigners were behind the planning of the attack.

"We don't know exactly who is behind it, but similarities lead us to believe that there is a foreign hand behind it," he said. "I don't believe that in Morocco you would find an organisation of this magnitude which would carry out these acts in Casablanca which killed so many people."

Straw insisted that the "battle against terrorism is one which we are winning and one which we will win."

"We have a joint preoccupation, a joint interest in fighting terrorism wherever it takes place," he said.

A statement carried by Morocco's official MAP news agency Tuesday quoted Interior Minister Mustapha Sahel as saying that the interrogation of two alleged attackers who survived the bombings firmly established the link to foreign terror groups.

"The arrest of the two terrorists still alive has led to considerable progress in terms of information," Sahel said. "This allows us today to confirm the link with international terrorism."

U.K. terror 'base'

Meanwhile, a lawyer for the U.K. government has conceded that Great Britain is a "base" for al Qaeda activity and warned that the country could face terror attacks in the future.

Wyn Williams, representing the Home Office at a special immigration appeals court hearing the cases of foreign terror suspects being held without charge, said Monday that radical British clerics had become the "focal point for extreme Islamic groupings."

"Prior to the September 11 atrocity, the U.K. was a significant base for support activity for the Islamic extremist terrorist networks," Williams said.

"The U.K. has continued to be a significant base for such support activity since September 11, but there has also been a shift from being seen as a haven for such groups to being a prime target for direct terrorist action."

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