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TERRORISM

Al-Qaeda terror suspects remanded in custody

A Spanish court on Monday remanded in custody eight suspected Al-Qaeda members accused of sending suicide attackers to the civil war in Syria, officials said.

Al-Qaeda terror suspects remanded in custody
Spanish Civil Guards escort suspected Al-Qaeda member identified only as M. H. A. (C) in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia in March 2012.File photo: Jose Jordan/AFP

The National Court in Madrid said the suspects were part of an international network "dedicated to radicalizing, recruiting and sending mujahideen to Syria to wage jihad and become martyrs".

It suspects them of belonging to a terrorist organization with links in Morocco, Belgium, Turkey and Syria that it said sent Spanish and Moroccan nationals to Syria.

The court said in a written ruling that at least five of those sent by the group to Syria had died there carrying out suicide attacks.

Among the suspects the court named Karim Abdeselam Mohamed, 39, as the leader of the network.

The written ruling ordered that he be held in custody, while judicial officials separately told news agency AFP the seven others were also ordered to be held, with one of them also facing arms charges.

Spanish security forces arrested the eight on Friday in raids in Ceuta, a Spanish territory in north Africa, and in the nearby town of Fnideq across the border in Morocco, the Spanish interior ministry said.

It said the network operated in the two towns and sent dozens of Islamist militants — some minors — to Syria.

European Union governments are showing growing alarm over the security threat posed by hundreds of young Europeans believed to be fighting alongside rebels in Syria.

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TERRORISM

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona

A court in Spain on Monday remanded in custody three suspected members of Islamic State arrested last week in Barcelona, including an Algerian man who had fought for the Islamist group in Iraq.

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona
Archive photo of a suspected jihadist arrested near Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Spanish authorities began their investigation after becoming aware just before Christmas that the “potentially dangerous” Algerian man was in Spain, police said in a statement.   

The man, a “jihadist” who had fought for the Islamic State group in Iraq, was arrested at a building occupied by squatters in Barcelona's seaside neighbourhood of Barceloneta, the statement added.

Police detained two other Algerian men as part of the operation, one suspected of giving him “logistical support” in Spain and another described by police as has “acolyte”.

The operation was carried out in cooperation with European Union law enforcement agency Europol and the FBI, as well as the intelligence services of Spain and Algeria, the statement said.

The three men appeared before a court on Monday where the presiding judge ordered they be remanded in custody on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organisation.

Their arrest comes as the trial of three men accused of helping the jihadists behind the August 2017 attacks in Barcelona and a nearby town that killed 16 people is wrapping up at a court near Madrid.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, one of which involved a van ramming people in the centre of Barcelona.   

While none of the three men on trial are charged with direct responsibility, they are in the dock for helping the attackers, who were all shot dead by police.

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