Moroccan terror leader Abdelkader Belliraj gets life in jail
July 28, 2009
Moroccan terror leader gets life in jail
He maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings. He was charged along with 34 co-defendents. In addition to the charges he was tried on, officials said they suspect Belliraj of having taken part in several murders in Belgium, a massive robbery in Luxembourg, combat training in Iran or Lebanon and meeting with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan a few days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Belliraj's co-defendents included opposition Islamist politicians, a university professor, a police superintendent, and a Moroccan journalist working for Al-Manar, the TV run by Lebanon's hardline Hezbollah group. The 34 co-defendents were handed sentences ranging from 30 years in prison to one-year suspended sentences.
The trial, which began in October, was the North African country's highest-profile terror case. It embodied some of the worst fears of security chiefs in North Africa and Europe: radical Islamists who double up as gangsters and use their dual citizenship to spawn an international terror network. Morocco has imprisoned over 1,000 suspected terrorists since 2003, when al-Qaida-linked extremists killed 45 people in a string of attacks in Casablanca, the country's economic powerhouse.