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Report: FBI finds link between 9/11, Madrid bombs
Updated: 2004-11-29 16:13

The FBI has established the clearest link yet between the March 11 Madrid train bombings and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, a Spanish newspaper reported Sunday.

Specialists disable high voltage electronic cables on the rail track near the wreckage of a bombed train near Madrid's Atocha station, March 11, 2004. [Reuters]

The FBI has told Spanish investigators that one of three men believed to have planned the Sept. 11 attacks from Spain in the summer of 2001 also gave the order to carry out the Madrid blasts, the newspaper ABC reported.

The train bombings killed 191 people and wounded 1,900 three days before a general election. In videotapes, the bombers claimed the attacks in the name of al Qaeda in Europe and said they were in revenge for Spain sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Investigators have long concluded that the Sept. 11 attacks were partially planned in Spain in July 2001.

Hijacker Mohammed Atta, believed to have piloted one of the airliners that crashed into New York's World Trade Center, visited Spain two months before the attacks and met two men.

One was Ramzi bin al-Shaibah, who is being held by U.S. authorities, while the other was unidentified.

ABC said investigators now believe that third man was the one who in December 2003 activated the Qaeda cell that carried out the March 11 attacks, which Spaniards call "our Sept. 11."

ABC said investigators had narrowed his identity down to three candidates and believed he was a lieutenant of Mustafa Setmarian, increasingly considered to have been a leader of the Madrid train bombers and who may have held a leadership role for al Qaeda in Europe.

Setmarian, aged 45 and of Syrian origin, was already wanted as part of a separate investigation into Islamic militant activity in Spain and is the subject of a Spanish wanted notice issued through Interpol.

The State Department said on Nov. 18 it was offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Setmarian, also known as Mustafa Setmariam Nasar or Abu Musab al-Suri. It described him as an al Qaeda member and former trainer at "terrorist camps" in Afghanistan.

Some 30 people are in custody or under court supervision for the train bombings for which one minor has so far been convicted. Seven prime suspects are dead and two or three other suspected collaborators remain at large.

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