Friday, January 25, 2008

Turns out that most of the evidence leading to the arrest of the terrorist cell in Barcelona comes from information provided by an informant. All the rest of the proof is the four timers and the fifty grams (two ounces) of an explosive chemical substance that were found by the police when they searched the suspects' apartments and the mosque on Calle Hospital. Now the cops are looking for more explosives that the cell might have had.

The various authorities are publicly disagreeing about the possible danger presented by the Pakistani terrorist cell broken up last week. The National Court, the prosecutor's office, and the secret service (CNI) all agree that the terrorists were planning suicide bombing attacks for last weekend; now the possible target list includes two subway trains on the green line (L3), a shopping center, and a rival mosque.

Interior minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, though, is less convinced; he said yesterday, "We don't have any proof, but we believe the statement of the protected witness." He's backing off the assertion that the attacks were to have been last weekend, saying that they didn't have enough explosives.

One thing: When some of the suspects were arrested, they were practicing the use of explosives, using modeling clay rather than the real substances.

Another thing: Something big must have been up, because by making the arrests the cops burned their inside informer, thereby giving up a major source of future information. They would be complete idiots to burn an informer over nothing, and I don't think the professional security forces are idiots. (The politicians in charge of them are another matter.)

Investigators say that the leader of the cell was Maroof Ahmed Mirza, one of the imams at the Calle Hospital mosque, who had arrived from Pakistan several months ago and who "controlled the group, ideologically and operationally."

The cops say that the group's aim was "to create a state of general psychosis in the Catalan capital, and to transmit the feeling that no one is safe." Well, they achieved that much.

Today La Vanguardia has a story on page 16 headlined "Mistrust in the Raval: Suspicions isolate Pakistani community in Barcelona neighborhood." The story says, basically, that nobody liked the Pakistanis in the first place, not the other immigrants (not even the Moroccans) or the local Catalans/Spaniards, and that now people like them even less.

Pilar Rahola writes today that radical imams and what they tell their faithful should be watched. Well, yeah, that's what the authorities are doing, infiltrating an informer among the faithful, and I bet this isn't the only guy they have. She adds that the Generalitat is subsidizing an organization called the Islamic Council, which the Calle Hospital mosque was associated with, to the tune of €90,000. Well, first, the government should not finance non-governmental associations; the whole point of being a private NGO is that you don't depend on the government, right? I wouldn't give any tax money to the Islamic Council or to anybody else's council. Second, of course, they should emphatically not subsidize organizations whose goals are violently subversive.

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