Sleeper cells bankroll terror attacks in N Africa

2nd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

2 May 2005, MADRID - Islamic radicals in Spain are funding terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda-linked groups in North Africa, it was reported.

2 May 2005

MADRID - Islamic radicals in Spain are funding terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda-linked groups in North Africa, it was reported.

El Pais newspaper, citing sources in the Spanish judiciary, said the money to carry out the massacres in North Africa, the latest of which took 30 lives in Algeria on April 11, comes from "sleeper cells" based in Spain.

The funds, which are gathered from common crime, also have been used to commit attacks in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Pakistan, said the daily, adding that a case involving money laundering and terrorist financing has shown for the first time that Al Qaeda is hiding money in the Bahamas.

The news comes amid the trial in Madrid of 29 mainly Middle Eastern men for the worst terrorist attack in Spain's history: the March 11, 2004, train-bombings that left 191 dead and more than 1,800 injured in this capital.

El Pais reported that Spain and France are the main European "fishing grounds" for the terrorist network inspired by Osama bin Laden and its expansion into North Africa, not only for recruiting militants and sending them to Iraq but also for collecting money with which to support its members and carry out attacks.

The paper, based on information obtained from the Civil Guard, said that the old Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) that last September made public its alliance with Bin Ladin obtains funds in Spain which it transfers via couriers to Algeria.

According to the information, a joint team of Spanish and French prosecutors, judges and agents have been investigating since October 2006 a complex network of financing in both nations that has made the group the most feared terrorist outfit in North Africa.

The movement now combines most of the jihadist groups in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, according to the data presented by El Pais.

The reports from Spanish and French intelligence agencies point to their two countries as the preferred targets in Europe, the paper said in explaining the "delicate and convoluted" route of financing for Islamist terrorists.

A good part of the money, the paper said, is obtained from shops offering telephone calling services and butcher shops, and the Al Qaeda couriers then transport it in small quantities on their trips all over the globe, making Spain "a hot spot in the financing of jihadist activities."

"Following this money is impossible," acknowledges an official at the Banco de España, according to El Pais, which also noted the conclusions to which the National Court had come about the new ways Al Qaeda is evading police monitoring.

A recent investigation by the National Court, which hears terrorism cases, shows that Al Qaeda in North Africa also uses international tax havens.

In a complaint presented by prosecutor Vicente Gonzalez Mota, authorities said that "money coming from the Bahamas was sent to Spain to a person linked with this terrorist group and was camouflaged with false invoices for nonexistent services in the name of a Japanese multi-national."

Gonzalez Mota presented the complaint regarding money laundering, collaboration with a terrorist group and document forgery against an Algerian citizen living in Spain who opened accounts in the name of a corporation and received transfers in 2004 of more than 18,000 euros ($24,500) from the Bahamas.

The transfers were justified with false invoices issued in the Netherlands and Germany in the name of the multi-national, the top officials of which told the National Court that they had no business relationship with the person in question.

National Court Judge Baltasar Garzon has issued an arrest warrant for the suspect who, El Pais reports, "has vanished."

A prosecutor explained to the paper the philosophy behind the investigation: "You have to act before an attack is carried out. We can't wait ... with that money, almost always in small quantities, until it causes an attack."

The prosecutor recalled that the 9/11 attacks in the United States and the March 11, 2004, train-bombings in Madrid cost relatively little to carry out.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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