Convicted terrorists escape Moroccan jail
The jailbreak coincides with the trial in London of eight suspects who allegedly attempted to bomb transatlantic planes.
Authorities in Morocco said Monday they were searching for nine escaped prisoners who had been convicted of terrorist offenses. The prisoners were convicted in connection with multiple suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2003. The nine men were among hundreds of Islamist suspects rounded up after the terrorist attacks, but were not considered to be among the masterminds.Skip to next paragraph
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News of the Moroccan militants' jailbreak came on the third day of a closely watched trial in London of eight men accused of plotting to bomb several passenger planes bound for the US in 2006, reports Agence France-Presse. The alleged plot, which was disrupted by British security forces, involved disguising homemade bombs as soda bottles. That prompted the global clampdown on liquids carried onto flights.
Both the trial and the escape relate to an apparent escalation of terror-related activity in Europe. In early March, US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said, "One of the reasons we're seeing more attacks in Europe is because they think it's easier," reported the Washington Post.
Moroccan Muslims were reportedly among the extremists that bombed a train station in Madrid in 2004 and have also been recruited to fight in Iraq, says the BBC. Authorities there have sought to crack down on militants to show Western allies that Morocco is a reliable partner in the US-led efforts to combat Islamist violence. The escaped prisoners apparently dug a tunnel out of the jail after protesting their innocence and saying the legal system had failed them. Human rights groups are skeptical of the soundness of some criminal convictions in the wake of the Casablanca bombings.