Skip to comments.Belgium to extradite Madrid bomb suspect
Posted on 03/23/2005 2:55:40 PM PST by knighthawk
A BELGIAN court cleared the way today for a suspected Islamist militant to be sent to Spain where he is wanted for alleged involvement in the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people last year.
The Supreme Court of Appeals rejected a final appeal by Moroccan-born Youssef Belhadj against his extradition to Spain, where he is suspected of being al-Qaeda's spokesman who claimed responsibility for the bombings in a videotape, a spokeswoman for the federal public prosecutor's office said.
Belhadj could be extradited any time in the next 10 days, but the spokeswoman said it would probably not take that long.
Born in Morocco but living in Belgium, he was first arrested in March 2004 but later released. Police arrested Belhadj again in early February.
Investigations into the March 11 attacks turned up information suggesting Belhadj could be "Abu Dujan", a purported spokesman for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda in Europe.
Abu Dujan said on the tape the attacks on four commuter trains were in retaliation for the then Spanish government's cooperation with United States President George W. Bush, particularly citing Spanish involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The tape was released hours before Spaniards went to the polls in a general election that ousted the pro-US Popular Party, electing Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero who pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq.
More than 100 suspected Islamic militants have been arrested in Spain since the March attacks. Many have been released for lack of evidence.