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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Twenty members of Al Qaeda cell in Spain arrested - had been planning attacks in Europe and recruiting for Jihad in Iraq

Twenty members of Al Qaeda cell in Spain arrested - had been planning attacks in Europe and recruiting for Jihad in Iraq

January 10, 2006


Al-Qaeda Cell in Spain May Have Been Planning Attack in Europe

Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- One of the al-Qaeda cells arrested early today in Spain may have been planning an attack in Europe, Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said.

Spanish police arrested 20 people comprising two cells following raids in Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque region, Alonso told reporters in Madrid. The cells were primarily involved in recruiting and training suicide bombers for the Iraq insurgency, he said.

Those arrested included 15 Moroccans, a Turk, an Algerian and three Spaniards. The Algerian, leader of the Madrid-based cell, was trained in Afghanistan, Alonso said.

Spanish authorities have arrested 52 people suspected of involvement in Islamist terrorism in the past two months.

Spain, with historic links to Muslim North Africa across the Gibraltar Straits, was used as a base by Islamists involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington and others linked to the Casablanca bombing of May 2003.



January 10, 2006

MADRID, Spain - Police arrested 20 people on Tuesday suspected of recruiting fighters and raising money for the Iraqi insurgency, the interior minister said.

Police broke up two well-organized and interconnected cells, one based in Madrid and the other in the Barcelona-area town of Vilanova i la Geltru, Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso told a news conference.

Police made 16 pre-dawn arrests in Vilanova i la Geltru, three in Madrid and one in Lasarte in the Basque region.

The cell based in Vilanova i la Geltru may have been behind a suicide attack in November 2003 that killed 19 Italian military personnel and civilians in the Iraqi town of Nasiriyah, Alonso said.

Alonso said that the two cells had links to people in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Fifteen of the detainees are Moroccan, three were Spaniards, one is Turkish and the last is Algerian, Alonso said.

Last month Spanish authorities arrested 16 people suspected of recruiting people to stage attacks in Iraq, Chechnya and Kashmir. Two other suspects surrendered.

A judge jailed six of them and freed the other 12, although they were ordered to check in with the court weekly and surrender their passports.

Alonso said the Barcelona-area cell broken up Tuesday, may have started sending fighters to Iraq around late 2003, but he did not specify how many people it sent.

In mid-2004, a Moroccan sent to Iraq by this cell was arrested in Syria and sent back to Morocco, apparently after fighting in the Iraqi city of Fallujah under the command of Jordanian-born terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the minister said.

He did not name the man or an Algerian man he said staged the suicide attack on the Italians in Nasiriya.

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