Two accused of recruiting Iraq suicide bombers
29 June 2005, MADRID — Spanish police arrested two more people - a Moroccan and an Algerian - on charges of recruiting Islamic militants to fight against United States-led forces in Iraq.
29 June 2005
MADRID — Spanish police arrested two more people - a Moroccan and an Algerian - on charges of recruiting Islamic militants to fight against United States-led forces in Iraq.
The arrests followed the detention of 11 people earlier this month accused of ties to Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is a key figure in the insurgency in Iraq.
Ridoune Elourma, a 29-year-old Moroccan, was picked up Tuesday in Puigcerda, a city in the north-eastern region of Catalonia.
Police said they arrested him when he crossed into Spain to buy supplies for a construction project he was working on in the nearby French town of La Tour de Querol.
It emerged that Elourma was refurbishing a chalet belonging to Josep Pujol, son of former Catalan regional president Jordi Pujol.
In fact, he was at the wheel of an SUV owned by the politician's wife, Marta Ferrusola, at the time of his arrest.
Josep Pujol issued a statement saying Elourma was simply an employee of the construction company he hired to do some work at his property, and that he had loaned the Moroccan his mother's vehicle so he could pick up materials.
The other suspect apprehended this week was 31-year-old Algerian national Mohamed Saad, traced on Monday in Valencia.
Authorities had been looking for the two men since the raids mounted on 14 June as part of 'Operation Tigris' in which 11 men said to be linked to Zarqawi and his Ansar el Islam group were arrested.
The Spanish cell is said to have made up a support network for Zarqawi's 'jihad' or holy war agsinst US-led forces in Iraq, connections in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in Britain.
Zarqawi is the man most-wanted by Washington in Iraq.
The nucleus of the support organization was located in Syria, where the main recruiters and financers of the network - Moroccans Muhsin Khaybar and Abdel Hay Assas - operated before their May 2004 arrests by Syrian authorities and their subsequent extradition to their homeland.
The Islamic network recruited and sent Muslim fighters to Iraq to carry out suicide strikes there.
But almost all of those arrested also were engaged in criminal activities such as drug trafficking, document forgery and violent robberies through which they obtained the funds they needed for their terrorist activities, police sources said.
Islamic militants mounted the worst terrorist attack in Spain's history on 11 March, 2004, when nearly 200 people perished in bombings of Madrid commuter trains during the morning rush hour.
Some two dozen people are jailed in Spain awaiting trial for their alleged role in that massacre.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news