Morocco attack video threat dates back to 2007: Experts
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Last Updated: Monday, May 02, 2011, 11:41
  
Rabat: A video attributed to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb posted three days before a deadly bombing in Marrakesh is a fragment of one dating back to 2007, two French security experts said Sunday.

Meanwhile Morocco's interior ministry said it had now identified all the victims of the bombing, which killed 16 people, 13 of them foreign nationals, and wounded another 21.

The video, which featured five young men, armed and dressed in desert fatigues, and included a threat to attack Morocco, is part of a longer Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) video, security consultant Anne Giudicelli told reporters.

"It's an extract of a long video from AQIM made in May 2007 and broadcast in summer 2007," said Giudicelli, a specialist in north Africa and the Middle East.

Jean-Charles Brisard, another security specialist, confirmed that the video was not recent.

"It comes from an AQIM video broadcast in June 2007 on a forum used by jihadist networks," he said.

In a separate development Sunday, an eighth French victim of the attack was identified, a senior official in Morocco's interior ministry said.

That meant that all 16 victims of the attack have now been identified, the official added: eight French nationals; three Moroccans; and one each from Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland.

Portugal on Sunday confirmed that "a young Portuguese citizen" had been one of the victims.

Forensic investigators used fingerprints, DNA, dental records and relatives to identify the victims, the official said.

Witnesses said the blast went off on the terrace of the Argana cafe, a popular tourist cafe in Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakesh's main square, wrecking the facade and the first floor.

The attack also wounded 21 people, 11 of whom are still being treated in hospital: six French nationals, three Moroccans and two Dutch nationals.

Reports of a video that appeared to claim responsibility and had been posted on Monday, three days before the attack, led to speculation that AQIM had been behind the attack.

That theory was strengthened on Friday when Interior Minister Taeb Cherkaoui said that the bomber had used a remote-controlled device and components previously used in Al-Qaeda attacks.

"The way in which this act was carried out reminds us of the style normally used by the Al-Qaeda organisation," he told reporters.

One senior interior ministry official who asked not to be named said they were not considering the contents of the video in the course of their investigation.

"This video dates before the attack, it's clear, but I cannot establish the exact date," the official added.

Giudicelli said the posting of the extract from the video earlier this week was a classic propaganda move by AQIM, pointing out that unlike the original film, the extract contained no indication of when it had been made.

"That's not by chance," she added.

"There was the intention of taking an extract, probably to influence the investigation and try to validate the hypothesis that it was AQIM behind (the attack)," she said.

The intention might have been to influence the move by King Mohammed VI towards greater openness.

The king has recently announced major political changes, including greater judicial independence. In mid-April, he pardoned political prisoners, including Islamists.

Brisard noted that another AQIM video containing a threat to attack Morocco had also been posted on the Internet on April 25 -- and it too was simply an extract from an old video, this one first broadcast in January last year.

"It can't be a coincidence, for these videos have not surfaced for a long time and the are really extracts that have been edited," he said.

"It's very out of the ordinary. The AQIM network is not in the habit of announcing its actions."

His view was that the attack had been carried out by Islamic militants who, while they might have been trained by AQIM, had acted autonomously.

May Day marches in the cities of Casablanca, Marrakesh and the capital Rabat were all marked by angry condemnation of Thursday's attack.

PTI


First Published: Monday, May 02, 2011, 11:41


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