Spain releases US citizen held over Qaeda funding

30th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish court released Wednesday a US citizen detained on suspicion of raising funds for Al-Qaeda's north African branch, due to lack of evidence.

Police detained Algerian-born Mohamed Omar Debhi, 43, on Tuesday in the northeastern city of Barcelona where he currently resides.

Spain's interior ministry accused him of sending over 60,000 euros (80,000) to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which carries out attacks and kidnappings in a vast area encompassing parts of Mauritania, Algeria, Mali and Niger.

But judge Santiago Pedraz of the National Court, Spain's top court for handling terrorism cases, ordered him released while the investigation continues on the grounds that "there is insufficient reasons to assign criminal responsibility to him".

Debhi reportedly once lived near Houston in Texas but little is known of his US connections, including how he obtained US citizenship.

Spain's interior ministry said he sent money by bank transfer or human couriers to an Algerian citizen in the north African country, Toufik Mizi, who in turn passed it on to Al-Qaeda's north African branch.

Mizi fled Spain in 2006 after Spanish police dismantled a radical Islamic cell involved in funding AQIM. He is wanted in Spain for terrorist offences.

Debhi and Mizi were involved in laundering the money sent to Algeria through fake companies, the ministry said.

© 2010 AFP

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