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Europe

A 'Mastermind' of Madrid Terror Bombings Arrested

Italian police arrested three suspected terrorists on Tuesday including one of the alleged masterminds of the Madrid bomb attacks. Officers in two countries took part in the raids.

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The bombings killed 191 people and injured more than 2,000.

The Madrid suspect, Egyptian Rabewei Osman Ahmen, is either 32 or 33 and had been under observation by Italian anti-terror police for three months. On Monday, Judge Juan del Olmo issued an arrest warrant for Ahmen in connection with the March 11 bombings at the Madrid train station that killed 191 people.

A Spanish interior spokesman told Reuters Ahmen, known as "Mohamed the Egyptian", was considered "one of the masterminds" of the Madrid bombing. Investigators have tied him to Serhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, the suspected leader of the Madrid cell of fundamentalists.

Fakhet and six other suspects blew themselves up as Spanish police raided their apartment on April 3. One Spanish officer was killed.

Looking for a commander

Since the bombing, Spanish police have accused 20 people of involvement in planning the attacks. Of those, 14 have been arrested and dozens arrested and released.

In the months since, a clearer picture of who was behind the attacks has begun to emerge. In late April, Spanish interior ministry officials said common criminals combined with a radical Islamic fundamentalist cell to produce the deadly bombings.

Investigators are still not convinced al Qaeda was behind the attack. They have concentrated on the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group believed responsible for synchronized suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2003.

Ahmen could help answer the question on whether the Madrid cell received any direction from someone who oversaw or gave approval to the operation.
A Spanish news agency reported that another person arrested in a raid in Belgium on Tuesday is suspected of involvement in the Madrid bombings.

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