MADRID, Spain (AP) – A Spanish judge has jailed seven people accused of recruiting fighters for the Iraqi insurgency, judicial officials said. The recruits allegedly included an Algerian man who allegedly killed 19 Italians in a suicide attack against a military base in November 2003.
An eighth suspect, one of a total of 21 arrested this week in a series of raids, was released but ordered to surrender his passport and report to the court weekly.
The other 13 suspects were to undergo questioning as early as Saturday, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because court rules bar them from identifying themselves.
Investigative magistrate Fernando Andreu of the National Court filed preliminary charges against the seven Moroccans he jailed, accusing them of belonging to a terrorist organization. This stops short of a formal indictment but allows authorities to keep the suspects in prison for up to three years while they continue investigating.
The raids this week marked the third time since June that Spain has arrested people suspected of aiding the Iraqi insurgency by recruiting and sending people to fight U.S.-led forces, either as guerrillas or suicide attackers. A total of 48 people have been arrested.
Spanish authorities say one of two cells broken up this week recruited an Algerian named Belgacem Bellil, whom they say DNA tests have shown to be the suicide attacker that killed himself, 19 Italians and nine Iraqis at an Italian military base in the southern city of Nasariyah in November 2003.
Police and Judge Andreu said this cell was led by one of the seven people now in jail, Mohamed Mrabet Fahsi, who was among 16 people arrested Tuesday in the Catalan town of Vilanova i la Geltru.
Another of the seven jailed late Friday was the imam of the town, Mohamed Samadi.
The other five were identified as Hassan Mordoude, Mustafa Fawzi, Mustafa Es Satty, Abdelhak Boudina and Munir Mrabet Fahsi, a brother of the alleged cell leader.
However, the Interior Ministry has said both the cell that recruited the man accused of killing the Italians and another cell broken up this week were led by Moroccan Omar Nakhcha, 23. He was arrested Thursday in another town in Spain’s eastern Catalonia region.
The ministry said Nakcha is also suspected of having helped four suspects in the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid flee the country. One of those, Mohamed Afalah, is alleged to have committed a suicide attack in Iraq in May 2005.