Spain arrests al Qaeda suspects planning European attacks

"One of the biggest terrorism investigations ever" with "international ramifications"

From Inmaculada Sanz and Nigel Davies, Reuters:  Three people linked to al Qaeda have been arrested in the south of Spain, one in possession of explosives they planned to use in attacks in either the Iberian country or other European nations, Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said on Thursday.

He said police arrested on Wednesday two al Qaeda members from ex-Soviet republics close to Ciudad Real who were likely heading to France, and a Turkish man near Cadiz whose house was searched and where explosives were found. . . .

The minister said one of the two arrested near Ciudad Real was a senior al Qaeda operative who had extensive experience in bomb-making.

From the BBC:  The two other suspects were travelling on a bus from Cadiz on Spain’s Atlantic coast to Irun near the French border when they were seized in a lay-by near Almuradiel by a police special operations group, Mr Diaz said.

Both men are from former Soviet republics, but the minister did not say which ones. The pair were carrying documents about piloting light planes, he said.

He described it as "one of the biggest terrorism investigations ever" with "international ramifications". Intelligence services from "Spain’s allies" were involved, he added.

Police suspect that at least one suspect has attended training camps in Pakistan, reports say. . . .

In March 2004, an al-Qaeda linked bomb attack on four packed commuter trains in Madrid killed 191 people and injured 1,841 others.  (photo: BBC)

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