Friday, 3rd August 2012
Al Quaeda terror suspect arrested in La Linea believed to have links with Gib
Three suspected Al Quaeda terrorists were arrested in Spain yesterday by the Policia Nacional, two in Ciudad Real and a third one in neighbouring La Linea. Spain’s Minister for the Interior Jorge Fernandez Diaz said the men had amassed explosives and “may have been plotting attacks in Spain and Europe.”
The three -- a Russian, a Chechen and a Turk, according to Spanish police -- were detained on Wednesday. The Turk was arrested in La Linea, while the other two were picked up in Ciudad Real. According to reports in the Spanish press the man in La Linea was married to a Moroccan woman, may have been working in Gibraltar and commuting to the Rock on a daily basis.
A spokesman for the RG Police said there was “no intelligence report or information of any threat to Gibraltar” and that they were liaising closely with the Spanish police in the continuing investigation.
He said these arrests serve to remind the community that “the threat of terrorism is real” and urged the public to remain vigilant and report “anything suspicious” to the police.
For its part Convent Place reassured public opinion that it had received no indication to suggest that the threat level to Gibraltar has changed in any way as a result of these events.
A Gibraltar Government statement said: “We note the news that a foreign national resident in Spain has been arrested in La Linea de la Concepcion in relation to alleged terrorist offences.
“Terrorism is a cruel evil that, unfortunately, affects the whole world. This latest incident so close to Gibraltar reminds us of the need always to remain vigilant and report any concerns or suspicions to the Royal Gibraltar Police.”
At a press conference in Madrid yesterday, Sr Fernandez Diaz said enough explosive material was found in the house in La Linea to blow up a bus, and the material could be especially dangerous if combined with shrapnel.
“This is one of the most important operations carried out against Al Qaeda,” he declared.
Sr Fernandez Diaz further stated that the operation involved close collaboration with intelligence services from “Spain’s allies.”
Spanish authorities had been watching the suspects for “some time,” the minister said, without giving further details.
The two arrested in Ciudad Real were taking a bus from Cadiz to the northern town of Irun, possibly intending to cross into France, the minister said. The pair had been in Spain for around two months.
“Police moved to arrest them when it became known that they planned to leave Spain,” he said.
Sr Fernandez Diaz did not disclose the identities of the three, but said two were suspected Al Qaeda operatives while the Turk was a facilitator.
He described one operative as a key member of the terror network, and said both operatives had practiced flying in light aircraft. One was an expert in explosives and poisonous substances, he said.
Spanish police arrested dozens of Al Qaeda suspects since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, and more after the 2004 train bombings in Madrid.