US intelligence warns of influx of Pakistani jihadists
Since 2001, the CIA and FBI have been drawing up secret reports drawing attention to the unusually frequent trips made to Spain by jihadists from Pakistan.28 January 2008
MADRID - Since 2001, the CIA and FBI have been drawing up secret reports drawing attention to the unusually frequent trips made to Spain by jihadists from Pakistan.
Up to 70 agents contributed to these reports, which have also been confirmed by two informers who used to work for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. Both told the FBI that the preferred route to Europe for hundreds of combatants in training camps was via Madrid.
Three terrorists who were arrested in Pakistan in connection with the 11 September 2001 attacks, including its mastermind, Kalih Seikh Mohammed, confessed that Al Qa'ida has an extensive support network in Spain, said sources from both US agencies.
For instance, the man who coordinated the 11 September attacks from Hamburg, the Yemeni Bilnalshibh, travelled to Madrid on 5 September 2001 and stayed at a hotel on Calle Carretas, near Puerta del Sol. Two days later, he boarded a flight from Barajas airport, Madrid, bound for Pakistan. Agents from the CNI, Spain's secret service, have identified the person who assisted him during his stay here.
Meanwhile, the group that held and murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was being funded through the hawala, a money transfer network outside regular financial circuits, and some of the money came from Pakistani sympathisers who ran small businesses in Barcelona. Spain's biggest Pakistani community is in Catalonia.
Randall Bennett, an FBI agent who worked in Pakistan and now coordinates security measures for US troops in Iraq, believes that for years Spain has been an extraordinary logistics and financial base for jihadists - until it became an objective. Bennett was in Madrid when the 11 March 2004 train bombings, which killed 192, took place.
"That is when I understood the meaning of all those flights to Madrid," he said. Spanish secret services have also drawn up their own reports confirming the abnormally high flow of combatants from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Spain.
The new jihadists are immigrants who reside in Europe but spend months at training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is allegedly the case of six men who were planning to blow themselves up on the Barcelona subway but who were arrested earlier this month, according to a protected witness.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / JOSÉ MARÍA IRUJO 2008]
Subject: Spanish news