Saturday, January 19, 2008

Breaking news: The Guardia Civil arrested fourteen people, twelve Pakistanis and two Indians, suspected of forming a terrorist cell, early this morning in Barcelona. Police operations have not yet finished, and there may be more arrests. The cell was planning a terrorist attack in Barcelona; police discovered bomb-making equipment, including timers, and chemicals that can be used to make explosives. They are also thought to have recruited and financed volunteer terrorists for Afghanistan.

Interior minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said that the cell had been very recently discovered by the CNI, Spanish intelligence, with assistance from authorities in other unnamed countries. He added that the cell has not yet been linked to Al Qaeda, but that a connection has not been ruled out, and that it was a well-organized group. (El Periodico headlines that the cell was part of Al Qaeda, specifically a Pakistani branch called Mohammed's Army.) Rubalcaba also said that radical Islamists consider Spain a top priority target.

All the arrests happened in the Raval district, the area of the old city between the Ronda Sant Pau and the Ramblas, with a very heavy immigrant population; some of them were arreated at the unofficial mosque on Calle Hospital.

Note: The Spanish press has a language problem when talking about Indian citizens. "Indio" always refers to an indigenous North or South American, and so a citizen of India is a "hindú." Now, of course, some 10% of Indians are Muslims, and there are other religious groups like the Sikhs, too. In particular, I will bet you euros to churros that the two Indians arrested were most definitely not Hindus, but rather Muslims. But that's what La Vanguardia called them.

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