Spanish police smashIslamic terror cell
14 May 2004
BILBAO – Police have arrested six people for allegedly recruiting Islamic terrorists to fight in Iraq, it was revealed Friday.
The arrests of five Algerians were made in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao.
Another Spaniard was arrested in Castro Urdiales, in Cantabria, northern Spain.
A seventh person was arrested then later released.
The National Police carried out the arrests between Wednesday and Thursday but only made the operation public Friday.
The operation is linked to a long-running investigation – codenamed Date – which was launched in November 2001.
The investigation aimed to dismantle an al-Qaeda cell in Spain linked to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Judge Baltasar Garzón, who has been leading the operation since September last year, has been hunting for 35 people.
Among them are al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the head of the cell in Spain, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias ‘Abu Dahdah’, and Amer Azizi, alias ‘Othman Al Andalusi’.
Abu Dahdah has been arrested and remains in prison.
Last month, Garzon charged Amer Azizi in connection with both the 11 September and 11 March attacks, the first time investigators have established a link between the two bloodiest al-Qaeda atrocities.
Azizi is alleged to have helped organise a meeting in Spain a few weeks before September 11 between the key plotters, including the suicide pilot Mohamed Atta.
Meanwhile, in the latest development, two people were arrested in Barcelona in the Vilanova and Geltru areas. A third was detained in Madrid and a fourth in Bilbao.
The man arrested in Madrid had been stopped as he traveled from Zaragoza in eastern Spain.
All will appear before Judge Garzon on Monday.
The police also carried out raids in Madrid, the Bilbao area of Deusto and in Santurce in the Basque Country and in Castro Urdiales.
But according to police sources one of the those arrested could be released shortly.
They added that the gang was thought to have provided the infrastructure, support and false documents for Islamic terrorists.
They are also linked to recruiting terrorists to train in al-Qaeda camps.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news