- A MOROCCAN secret service
agent says that for two years he successfully infiltrated al-Qaeda before
breaking cover last summer to warn his bosses that the terror group was
plotting "something spectacular" in New York.
- Hassan Dabou has told of meetings at which Osama bin
Laden vented his fury at al-Qaeda's failure to demolish the World Trade
Centre in 1993 and proclaimed his desire for revenge.
- Mr Dabou was not sure what the target was to be, only
that it would be a "large-scale operation in New York in the summer
or autumn of 2001".
- Secret service chiefs are said to have taken seriously
the tip from one of its veteran informants and immediately passed on the
details to Washington.
- While the agents were not sure what bin Laden was planning,
they knew from Mr Dabou's reports that al-Qaeda had sympathisers in place
in several Moroccan cities.
- Mr Dabou, who claims to have first worked as an informer
for the secret service in the slums of Casablanca, was posted to Algeria
and Iran. He says that he infiltrated the terror group after his employers
sent him to Afghanistan, where he posed as an Islamic radical on the run
from authorities in Morocco.
- Reports from Casablanca say that Mr Dabou was flown in
secret to Washington, where he was co-operating with US intelligence agents
when the hijackers struck.
- Growing evidence of al-Qaeda's Moroccan links was not
followed up by Western agencies last summer. Informers and minor figures
arrested in Europe had revealed their associations with a number of Moroccans
allied to radical Islamic groups, but the pattern was ignored.
- Just 48 hours before the September 11 attack, the first
link was established when Ahmed Shah Masood, leader of the Northern Alliance
resistance to the Taleban in Afghanistan, was killed by a Moroccan and
- In their frantic security sweeps since September 11,
intelligence services in Britain, France, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands
have arrested a large number of Moroccan nationals with alleged terrorist
- Morocco, being close to Europe, was an ideal base for
bin Laden. His agents could move around the moderate Islamic country easily
and use well-established smuggling routes into Spain.
- Bin Laden's agents are thought to have been in place
in Moroccan cities for several years. The three Saudis being held as part
of an alleged suicide bomb plot on American and British warships were all
working in Casablanca and Rabat and two had followed the al-Qaeda instruction
to marry local women. Al-Qaeda also found in the slums of Casablanca plenty
of willing local recruits, who were moved to Europe to await their instructions.
- Some of the volunteers were simply used as couriers.
Some would be involved in counterfeiting credit cards and other scams to
raise money, while a few were picked for terrorist operations.
- Among them was said to be Zacharias Moussaoui, the former
South London university student accused of being the would-be twentieth
hijacker. He was born and raised in Morocco before moving to France and
- Another volunteer was said to be Djamel Ajouaou, who
was among the first group of eight suspected Islamic militants rounded
up by British police last December and jailed in Belmarsh top-security
prison under emergency laws introduced by David Blunkett, the Home Secretary.
No reason was ever given for their arrest. Western security agencies were
stunned when Mr Blunkett agreed that Mr Ajouaou could be sent to Morocco
in January this year, even though his alleged terrorist links were detailed
- During a bail hearing, the former London hotel worker,
who had lived in Britain for ten years, was described by Ian Burnett, QC,
counsel for the Home Secretary, as "an active supporter of various
international terrorist groups, including those directly engaged in terrorism
and those with links to Osama bin Laden". Protesting his innocence,
Mr Ajouaouo was flown out of London in secret and was not allowed to take
his British wife and four-month-old daughter with him.
- One of the Britons being held at Camp X-Ray in Cuba,
Tarek Dergoul, 24, a former East London care worker, is the son of a Moroccan
baker. When Spanish police broke up an al-Qaeda cell, known as the "Soldiers
of Allah", they discovered that one of the ringleaders was a 35-year-old
Moroccan, Najib Chaib Mohammed.
- Two more of the suspects imprisoned at Camp X-Ray - Hamed
Abderrahman Ahmed, 27, and Reswad Abdulsam, 30 - are Moroccans who were
living in Spain before they went to Afghanistan. A gang of four Moroccans
were arrested in Rome in February this year for allegedly trying to poison
the water supply in the area near the US Embassy.
- Another Moroccan, L'Houssaine Kherchtou, told a US court
that he was sent on flying lessons in Kenya by al-Qaeda.
- He became bin Laden's personal pilot, but was puzzled
when the al-Qaeda leader insisted that he learn to fly crop-dusters. US
Intelligence believes the group was planning to use crop dusters for chemical
attacks, with Kherchtou as one of the pilots.