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Terror Suspects Arrested in Spain - 2001-09-26

Spanish police say they have arrested six Algerian members of an alleged terrorist group believed to have links to Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Spanish police arrested six suspected members of an Algerian terrorist group and seized sophisticated electronic equipment, weapons, and documentation.

Police carried out the operation beginning late Tuesday night in the provinces of Huelva, Almeria, Valencia, Navarre, and Murcia.

Spanish officials say the suspects received financing and training from Osama bin Laden's organization, and that some were veterans of wars in Afghanistan and Bosnia. The United States has named Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

The operation was carried out in cooperation with other European security and intelligence services and was related to arrests made recently in Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and France.

The six arrested in Spain are members of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. It is a splinter of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria. Both have been listed by the United States as terrorist organizations.

Spanish Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy said the six men were linked to Osama bin Laden's network in Europe. Officials say one of the main activities of those arrested in Spain was to provide false documentation and logistical support for terrorists planning suicide attacks against U.S. organizations in Europe.

Police seized false passports and identity cards from various countries, equipment for forging airline tickets between Spain, Algeria and France, and devices for forging credit cards. The funds obtained from the credit cards helped meet their own personal needs and finance the organization. Another activity of the group was to acquire and send electronic and computer material to activists in Algeria.

Spanish Interior Minister Rajoy said that although the operation was related to recent arrests in other European countries, Spanish police had been monitoring the six activists for some time.