Islamists sought "maximum carnage" in Barcelona attack

28th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Bombings also planned for four other countries, witness says.

28 January 2008

MADRID - An Islamist terrorist cell dismantled in Barcelona last weekend had chosen the city's subway system as a target for a series of suicide bombings in order to maximise the carnage and loss of life, according to testimony from a protected witness.

"If we attack the metro [subway], the emergency services cannot get there," one of six suicide bombers, identified by his first name Shahid, reportedly told the witness.

The witness, who was apparently planning to carry out a suicide attack himself until he changed his mind and went to the Civil Guard, told first them and then the judge and prosecutor that the six bombers would attack in pairs on Barcelona subway trains using bombs hidden in bags and rucksacks, while other Islamist extremists would hit transport networks in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Portugal. His testimony led the police to round up the group on 18 January, arresting 12 suspects at an unauthorised prayer hall in Barcelona's Raval district and seizing bomb-making equipment. On Wednesday, a judge remanded 10 of them in custody.

According to the witness, who police are calling "F-1" in order to protect his identity, the plan for the attacks came from Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban leader in Pakistan's lawless Waziristan region. Mehsud is believed to be close to Osama bin Laden and has been blamed by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for the assassination in December of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. When the attacks were due to take place remains in some doubt. Interior Minister Alfredo Peréz Rubalcaba noted on Friday that the bombings were probably not "imminent" given that police have failed to find a large quantity of explosives in the group's possession.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / JOSÉ MARÍA IRUJO 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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