‘Spain stopped Al-Qaeda drone attack’: US

The FBI has praised Spain's police force for helping the US to prevent potential terrorist attacks on European cities, including an Al-Qaeda plan to deliver explosives by using drones.

'Spain stopped Al-Qaeda drone attack': US
FBI head James Comey, pictured here with US president Obama, has commended Spain for playing an “essential” part in stopping numerous terrorist attacks. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP

James Comey, director of the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, commended Spain on Monday for playing an “essential” part in stopping numerous terrorist attacks from taking place across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The FBI head met Spain’s Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz and National Police chief Ignacio Cosido on Monday to exchange information on terrorism, organized crime and cybercrime.

Details of their meeting and joint investigations have been summarized in a statement released by the US embassy in Madrid on Tuesday.

The communiqué highlights how the exchange of information between both countries prevented an Al-Qaeda plan to use drones to deliver explosives in Spain and Europe.

According to the US embassy, the “excellent” relations between Spain and US authorities also led to the arrest of four Mexican drug kingpins belonging to the Sinaloa cartel.

The news comes just weeks after Félix Sánz, head of Spain’s National Intelligence Centre (CNI), admitted his organization had shared details of millions of telephone calls with the US.

Sánz vehemently denied this information related to Spanish citizens.

His words came in the wake of Spanish media allegations that US security services had tracked 60.5 million telephone calls in Spain in a single month, according to a leaked document by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

Those media reports alleged the US had spied on Spain but the US responded by saying it was provided phone call data by Spain. 

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Spain’s capital delays reopening of schools after historic snowfall

Madrid's regional government on Friday postponed the opening of schools until January 20 because many roads remained blocked a week after Spain's worst snowstorm in decades.

Spain's capital delays reopening of schools after historic snowfall
Children riding sleds are pulled by their parents amid a heavy snowfall in Madrid on January 9, 2021: AFP

The region's 2,557 schools had been set to reopen on Monday but access to over half of them, or 57.6 percent, remains difficult because of the snow and ice, the regional government said in a statement.

Clean-up crews will “continue working intensely over the following days” to ensure school can open as planned, it added.

Storm Filomena dumped 50 centimetres (20 inches) of snow on Madrid between last Friday and Saturday, leaving the city and large swathes of the country impassable.


The storm had been blamed for five deaths. It was followed by several days of plunging temperatures, which hardened mounds of snow and slush.

ANALYSIS: Should Madrid be declared a disaster zone as true cost of storm damage emerges?

While main arteries have been cleared, hundreds of side streets remained caked in snow and ice which has disrupted post delivery and rubbish collection, with huge piles of refuse piled up around overflowing bins across Madrid.

A pile of garbage bags is pictured in Madrid on January 14, 2021. Gabriel BOUYS / AFP

READ ALSO: IN PICS: Spectacular images of snow-covered Spain from the air

About a third of all streets, or 30.3 percent of all streets have been cleared, according to Madrid city hall which estimates the storm caused at least 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in damage.

Madrid mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida said the storm dumped more than 1.2 million kilos of snow on the city, enough to form a line of trucks stretching from Madrid to Brussels.

He has called on the central government to declare the area a disaster zone, a move that would trigger emergency aid and other measures.

But the central government wants to wait for a final evaluation of the damage before it decides whether to declare Madrid a disaster area, Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos told reporters.

People walk amid a heavy snowfall in Madrid on January 9, 2021. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Meanwhile, Madrid three main art museums — the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia, the home of Picasso's masterpiece “Guernica” — all announced that they would reopen on Monday for the first time since the storm hit.

People enjoy the snow outside the Royal Palace in Madrid on January 9, 2021. Gabriel BOUYS / AFP

READ ALSO: LATEST: Big freeze across Spain set to last into next week

READ ALSO: Ten phrases to talk about cold and wet weather like a true Spaniard