In Belgium a preliminary hearing has begun for 13 Islamists suspected of being involved in the deadly Madrid and Casablanca bombings. The trial, which begins in earnest in two weeks, is one of Europe’s biggest anti-terrorist cases since the September 11 attacks on the United States led to a crackdown on Islamic militant networks in Western countries.
The accused are charged with providing false papers, safe houses, and other logistical help to members of the GICM, or Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group operating in Europe. The GICM has been linked to last year’s train attack in Madrid and the suicide bombing in Casablanca a year earlier. Nearly 240 people died in both attacks. The United States describes the GICM as a shadowy terrorist group whose aim is to establish an Islamic state in Morocco and support al Qaeda’s campaign against Western countries. The suspects are either Moroccan or Belgians of Moroccan descent. If found guilty, they face up to ten years in jail.