Suspects of recruiting people to train abroad and carry out terrorist attacks face charges

Two former detainees at American prison in Guantanamo Bay and 20 other suspects faced charges of recruiting people to train abroad and carry out terrorist attacks in Morocco, in a trial that has dragged on for over a year.

Judge Mohamed Benchakroun swiftly postponed the trial again until June 22 on the grounds that one of the defense lawyers, Abdelfattah Zahrach, had failed to turn up.

Suspects Brahim Benchekroun and Mahomed Mazouz were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay from 2002 until August 2004, when they were repatriated to Morocco along with three other detainees. The pair were hit with terrorist charges upon return but released soon after on probation. They were acquitted of the charges in January.

But in the meantime, Benchekroun and Mazouz had been re-arrested in November 2005 on fresh charges of helping form a terrorist cell allegedly recruiting people to undergo paramilitary training abroad and then carry out attacks in Morocco.

Moroccan authorities say the group had relations with terrorists active on the borders of Iraq. The suspects also include alleged ringleader Khalid Azig, a Moroccan, and Mohamed Reha and his uncle Mohamed Zemmouri, two Belgians of Moroccan origin.

Morocco has arrested thousands of alleged terrorists since suicide bombings that killed 45 in the commercial capital Casablanca in 2003.

Casablanca was hit by a new spate of suicide bombings in March and April as police ran to ground a cell that killed themselves with explosive belts to avoid capture.

Separately in Sale on Friday, hearings continued for seven alleged terrorists, while judges postponed trials of two other cases involving alleged terrorists, the state news agency MAP reported.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova