Terror Sweep Nets Seven in Spain
MADRID, Spain – Police have arrested at least seven people suspected of financing and giving logistical support to an Islamic extremist group with links to Al Qaeda, officials said Friday.
Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said police who made the arrests late Thursday and early Friday in the Costa del Sol region had turned up no evidence that the detainees were planning an imminent attack in Spain.
Alonso said the detainees were suspected of aiding an Algeria -based Islamic extremist organization, the Salafist Group for Call and Combat.
Police made the arrests in apartments in the cities of Malaga, Marbella and Torremolinos and continued to carry out searches Friday morning, news reports said.
The nationalities of the detainees were not immediately released.
On Nov. 23, Spanish police arrested 11 Algerians suspected of providing financing and logistical support to the same Algerian group, which is also known as GSPC. The arrests were in the eastern cities of Alicante and Murcia and in Granada in the south.
A week later, a judge charged four of the suspects with belonging to a terror cell but released the other seven on the condition that they surrender their passports and check in with the court weekly.
Suspected Islamic extremists claiming allegiance to Al Qaeda detonated 10 bombs on Madrid commuter trains in March 2004, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,500. They said they acted on Al Qaeda's behalf in revenge for the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq.
The soldiers had been sent by a conservative government that was voted out of office in elections three days after the Madrid attacks, losing to Socialists who opposed the Iraq war and quickly brought the 1,300 troops home.
A total of 26 people have been jailed in the case on provisional charges that include terrorism and mass murder. Dozens more have been jailed and released but are still considered suspects.