The Vanguardia is reporting (click here for their 10:30 PM local time update) that the 16 suspected terrorists in custody in Spain are members of the Salafista splinter of the Algerian GIA. They provided information and infrastructure to Al Qaeda. Spanish police made 12 raids in Barcelona and the surrounding autonomous region of Catalonia. Among the items confiscated, as well as some chemicals (earlier reports said "ricin", this update says "resins") and explosives, along with bomb-making materials and all sorts of electronic gear, not to mention enough radio gear to contact Algeria and Chechenia, and a few guns and lots of papers and documents, was equipment for forging documents and credit cards. The forged credit cards were a source of income.
Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar confirmed that the "suspects" were preparing attacks with explosive and chemical material. He stated that this was "an important unraveling of a network of terrorists linked to al Qaeda", and a "strong blow" at the terrorists' financing network. He also confirmed that the suspects had been in contact with those arrested in Britain and France who had planned attacks in Strasbourg, Paris, and London. Minister of Interior (law enforcement) Ángel Acebes said that Spain was "at the forefront" of the struggle against Islamic and all other forms of terrorism, and pointed out that 35 suspected Islamic terrorists have been arrested in Spain since Sept. 11, 2001.
Two different groups were broken up; one was based in Barcelona and led by Mohamed Taraqui, and the other was based in Banyoles, a small city with a fairly large population of Arab immigrants near the French border, and was led by Bard Eddu Farji. Both men are Algerian, as were some of the other men arrested; others are Moroccan and Pakistani. All those arrested have been identified and their names released except two.
The origin of the trail leading to today's actions begins with the arrest of Mohamed Bensakhria by the Spanish police in Alicante in June 2001. He was the leader of Al Qaeda's operations organization.
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