– CASABLANCA BOMBINGS – 2003
On 05/16/2003 Friday night a group of 14 Muslim suicide bombers attacked different Western and Jewish targets in various places inMorocco’s largest city – Casablanca.
The 2003 Casablanca Bombings targeted a Jewish community centre, a Spanish restaurant and social club, a hotel and the Belgian consulate. 45 people were killed in the explosions: 8 Europeans, 25 Moroccans innocent civilians and 12 suicide bombers. More then 100 were wounded. Two bombers were arrested before they could carry out attacks.
In a bizarre ecstasy 4 suicide bombers exploded in the empty Jewish cemetery of Casablanca, just in order to defile the cemetery, with no other casulties. About 40 Israelis were staying at the Safir Hotel, which was also targeted by the attackers.
15 people died in the Casablanca Bombings in the Casa de Espana restaurant, making it the worst of the bombings. In a nearby Italian restaurant, the Positano, owned by a French Jew of Moroccan origin, an employee had stopped three suspects as they were entering the restaurant. One of the suspects reportedly fled and the other two died in the blasts. The security cameras showed the bombers trying to get into the restaurant, but failing. The bombs then went off in the street.
The bombers aged of 20-24 were all from Moroccan descent.
* In the aftermath of the 2003 Casablanca Bombings the Moroccan authority arrested about 3,000 Islamic militants and charged 87 in direct or indirect connections and knowledge about the attack.
* Mohammed el Omari, the suicide bombers group ringleader, Rachid Jalil who regretted in the last moment and abandoned his suicide belt, Yassine Lahnech who also regretted in the last moment and was arrested on 05/18/2003 and Hassan Taoussi who was caught before executing his mission in the Casablanca Bombings as a would be suicide bomber in the last moment, were sentenced to death on 07/12/2003.
* A group named “Salafia Jihadia” (see – Salafiya ), a local branch of the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group – (CICM), led by Mohamed Fizazi, is suspected of recruiting and preparing the Casablanca suicide attackers. Mohamed Fizazi had close relations with the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group – (CICM) in Europe and especially with members of the Spanish cell that carried out the Madrid Trains Bombing: Hasan El Haski , who was involved also in the 2003 Casablanca Bombings, and Jamal Zougam.
Mohamed Fizazi was among 87 people sentenced in Morocco in 08/2003 in a trial that centered on the Casablanca Bombings. Mohamed Fizazi received a 30-year sentence after being convicted of preaching radical Islam in Mosques and meeting with the Casablanca attack’s perpetrators.
* On 12/23/2004 Youssef Addad and Abdelmalek Bouizakarne were found guilty and sentenced to death for threatening lives, possession of explosives and forming a criminal band with the aim of preparing terrorist acts. Thirteen others were handed prison sentences ranging from 5 to 30 years.
Youssef Addad was the head of a radical Islamist group named “Assirat Al Moustakin” (The Straight Path), operating in Casablanca, that was also involved in recruiting and organizing the 2003 Casablanca Bombings.
* On 07/11/2007 a Paris court convicted Mustapha Baouchi, one of the 2003 Casablanca Bombings offenders, alongsidethe Maroccan-Network, for providing logistic and financial support to the Casablanca Bombings and sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment and deportation back to Morocco.
* Today (08/2007) no death sentence was, yet, executed.
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