Spanish police arrested 13 people suspected of helping fund Islamic terrorist activities in north Africa, the Interior Ministry said.

The detainees were suspected criminals, police are "investigating whether through their crimes there was some diversion of funds to finance international terrorism," Spanish Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said. This is the term Spanish officials often use to refer to Islamic terrorism.

A ministry statement said police arrested 12 Algerians and one Iraqi, all residents of the Basque city of Bilbao where they were arrested. The Algerians were from the city of Oran.

The statement said the 13 were involved in theft, dealing in stolen goods and drug trafficking. It said they were suspected of funding Islamic terrorism activities in Algeria.

Police seized stolen passports, knives and other instruments used in robberies in the overnight raids.

Initial news reports said 17 people had been arrested but the ministry later said the number was 13.

Dozens of suspected radical Islamic militants have been arrested in Spain since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington, and again after the 2004 commuter train bombings in Madrid.