Madrid, Asharq Al-Awsat- Spanish police on Wednesday arrested 10 people of North African origin suspected to financing and giving logistical support to an Islamic extremist group linked to al Qaeda.
T he arrests took place in Alicante , Granada and Murcia , in a series of dawn raids. Police seized computer equipment, drugs and $41,000 dollars.
The interior minister Jose Antonia Alonso told a press conference the men are suspected of having ties to terrorism and to Algerians living in Germany, The Netherlands, Britain, Belgium and Denmark and of belonging to a cell supporting the Algeria-based “Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat” ( GSPC). by drug trafficking, forging credit cards, stealing cars and facilitating the movement of Islamists in Europe.
In an attempt to assuage the fears of the Spanish population, especially those living in the cities where the arrests took place, the minister indicated there was no suggestion the detainees were planning a terrorist operation.
Alonso indicated the GSPC was directly linked to al Qaeda and maintained links with other militant groups across Europe. “We must await the results of the investigation to find out [more about the] activities of those arrested.” He refused to rule out further arrests following the interrogation of the detainees which will take place in Madrid .
This latest operation comes in the wake of 10 months of observation and eavesdropping by the police, under the supervision of a Spanish national court judge.
While no official information was available on the origin of those arrested, Reuters news agency reported the men were from Algeria and Morocco .
So far this year, Spanish police have arrested more than 50 individuals suspected of links with terrorism. In 2004, 131 were detained for alleged ties with terrorist groups, many as part of the ongoing investigation into the Madrid bombings in March 2004.