Madrid, Asharq Al-Awsat – Spanish authorities arrested a group of seven suspects, six men and one woman, Friday morning accused of providing financial support to the Algerian organization, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, allegedly affiliated to Al Qaeda. The National Court in Madrid, which sanctioned and supervised the operation, had ordered Special Forces from Madrid associated with the Spanish Civil Guard to assist the police forces in Malaga with the clamp down.
Information from the Spanish Anti Terrorism Unit highlighted that the raids took place in the Costa Del Sol region, specifically, Malaga, Marbella, Torremolinos, and Benalmadena. According to the same source, all detainees are originally Algerian. Following the arrests, the seven suspects were transferred to the headquarters of the Spanish Civil Guard in Malaga. It is expected that they will be transferred to the National Court in Madrid for investigation at a later stage. Sources have not ruled out the possibility of further raids by the Spanish Security forces based on information provided in the preliminary interrogations with the suspects on their arrival to Malaga.
Spanish Interior Minister, Jose Antonio Alonso, told reporters at a press conference, that it had been confirmed that the detainees were accused of financially supporting the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. He added, "This cell was engaged in providing logistical and financial support to an Algerian Group. However, we have no evidence that they were planning to carry out any terrorist attacks." He confirmed that the suspects were part of a well-organized cell with a defined structure and strong leadership. He further confirmed that money had been transferred to the group directly and indirectly to prevent the transactions being traced.
Eyewitness accounts stated that vehicles have been continuously transporting suspects to Malaga””s Civil Guard headquarters since the raids Friday morning. The European Press Agency reported that an Algerian woman arrived at Malaga””s Civil Guard headquarters early Friday morning complaining that security forces had raided her house in Los Alamos, in Torremolinos at 2AM and arrested her mother and her mother””s Algerian friend who had been staying with them for three weeks. According to European Press, the Algerian woman was unaware of her mother””s whereabouts. She added that her mother””s detained friend worked in a car-rental office near Malaga airport.
Spanish Security Authorities believe that although the suspects had not been preparing any imminent attacks in Spain, they were prepared to "help the terrorists and harbor them if they were to travel to Spain." Sources from the Spanish Interior Ministry told Asharq Al Awsat that the detained suspects transferred money to bank accounts in Algeria of relatives of members of the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. The sources added that the suspects were involved in petty crimes such as forging documents and credit cards, drug dealing, and car theft.