Anti-Terror Raids in Spain, Italy and UK Find Terrorist Weapons Cache


Armed Spanish police officers enter an apartment in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Jan. 24, 2003, several al Qaeda terror cell suspects arrested and are being held. Some waiting extradition to France.

Spanish Police HO

“Those arrested were preparing to commit attacks with explosives and chemical materials,” said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar after 180 Spanish police officers raided homes in the Catalonia region to uncover “a major terrorist network…linked in this case to the Algerian Salafist group, a splinter cell of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which has clear connections with the criminal organization of bin Laden.”

Spain, along with Italy and the United Kingdom, have led a European charge in the battle against terror over the past 3 weeks to discover shocking information and materials that has prevented numerous attacks across the face of Western Europe.

United Kingdom

Starting January 5th, the United Kingdom has raided government funded houses inhabited by supposedly innocent muslim “asylum seekers”–along with other homes–in conjunction with taking the politically touchy step of searching a mosque in the effort to root out terror.

From intelligence reportedly given by the French to British officials, officers were able to seize evidence and stop a plot to poison British citizens with the deadly poison ricin. Some of the Islamic extremists had jobs or their associates had jobs involving food preparation.

Reportedly, another chilling discovery was made by British police detectives in the raids of one of the homes related to the mosque: protective clothing and gear. The protective clothing and fitted masks were apparently designed to protect the wearer from a chemical or biological terror attack. This equipment, along with the find of ricin, intensified intelligence officers’ concern for the public’s safety.

Several of those arrested in the raids over the past three weeks were from Algeria and had only been in the country for a few months.

The anti-terrorist raid on one house conducted by British police came at a cost however when a suspect in the Manchester raid charged at unarmed police officers, stabbing Detective Constable Stephen Oake to death and wounding four others. Three North African suspects were arrested.

The Special Branch detective constable was buried Sunday in Manchester. His family–including his wife Lesley and their three children–mourned with thousands who gathered at Manchester Cathedral to honor his memory and to pray. DC Stephen Oake’s father told mourners that the family is drawing strength from their strong Christian faith. He said, "People who believe in God never meet for the last time."

The primary suspect in Oake’s murder is 27-year-old North African, Kamel Bourgas. He has been charged in a London court for DC Oake’s murder and the attempted murder of four other officers that were with Oakes the day of the raid.


In the Spanish Raids, Spanish police organized the pre-dawn raids on several homes last week that resulted in the arrests of 19 al Qaeda terror cell suspects in the Catalonia region near Barcelona.

Guillermo Ruiz Polanco, Investigating Magistrate, held court on Sunday, ordering the al Qaeda terror suspects to be held behind bars.

The jailed terror suspects are found to have links to the Islamic terror suspects arrested earlier in France and Britain. Spain’s intelligence began the anti-terror operation in Catalonia over a year ago when Spain’s High Court authorized wiretaps. France had also provided intelligence to the operation.

France is expected to seek extradition of al-Qaeda suspects arrested in Spain.


Italian Carabinieri, paramilitary police, escort outside the Carabinieri station, one of the five Moroccans arrested in Badia Polesine, near Rovigo, northern Italy, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2003. Police arrested the men near the northern city of Rovigo after discovering explosives and maps highlighting Padua’s Basilica del Santo and the NATO base in Verona in their apartment.

Giorgio Mattoschi / AP Photo

In Italy, five Moroccans were arrested after a routine search for illegal immigrants turned up 2.2 pounds of explosives, maps and addresses of NATO interests, and a map with a circle around London, authorities told ANSA news agency.

Italian officials have stepped up security at sensitive sites and tourist attractions.

In the city of Rovigo, southwest of Venice, police found C-4 explosives, some reportedly stuffed in socks. The al Qaeda terror suspects had turned a farmhouse into a mosque.

British press reports state that the explosives found at the farmhouse are similar to those used in the terror bombing attack in Bali that killed vacationing Australians, British citizens and Americans.

The suspects ages 28-41 reportedly were employed and included a religious leader of Rovigo’s Muslim community, Reduane Bnoughazi, 32. They are being charged with possessing explosives police said. They are facing 8 years or more in prison.

US Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was in meetings with the Italian Justice Minister on Thursday in Rome, said Italy’s war on terror and the subsequent arrests of terror suspects demonstrates ”tangible evidence that Italy takes terrorism seriously and fights it aggressively."

al Qaeda’s Other Basecamp: Iraq

As the war against terror continues in many forms globally, all eyes are on the Iraqi threat. Intelligence sources say al Qaeda leaders in Iraq continue to plot terror and organize with Saddam to attack various targets world wide.

Iraq is a virtual distribution network of terror. Sources say weapons materials have been distributed from Iraq to cells with directions or recipes on how to attack using chemical or biological weapons. One of the 9-11 terrorists, Mohammad Atta, sought treatment for chemical burns to his hands and arms in Florida prior to hijacking a U.S. passenger jet and slamming it into the World Trade Center.

Meanwhile, UN inspectors continue to attempt substantive progress in exposing and determining the magnitude of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction programs.

Delays, deception, and the bizarre behavior of Iraqi scientists, who refuse to be alone with UN inspectors or to leave with them as inspectors had initially hoped, are adding to the pressure governments with intelligence evidence are experiencing.

Plotting a Course of Action

This weekend in Switzerland, US Secretary Powell addressed 2,300 government and business leaders at the World Economic Forum on the gravity of Saddam’s cover up of weapons built for terror. "Saddam should tell the truth now, " said Powell, "The more we wait, the more chance there is for this dictator with clear ties to terrorist groups (including al Qaeda) … to pass a weapon, share technology, or use these weapons again."

Powell said with inference to dictatorships like Saddam’s "we have seen these sorts of evil leaders before." "We have seen them throughout history. And they are still alive today. There are still leaders around who will say, ‘You do not have the will to prevail over my evil.’ And I think we are facing one of those times now."

After talking with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday morning, Russia’s President Putin insists that the UN arms inspectors must have more time.

According to Debkafile, Israeli National Security Council head Halevy visited Moscow over the weekend with new evidence of Iraq’s involvement in master plots to carry out ‘mega-terror plans’ for the Middle East and European countries, however the Russian President, along with France, Germany and China, want to the UN inspectors to continue their search.

Hans Blix, told the UN that Iraq had not been fully cooperative, saying the process seems to be less of "declare and verify," and more of a game of "hide and seek."

Monday, two British U.N. observers were threatened by a Kuwaiti army soldier at a military checkpoint near the border with Iraq. According to the AP, the Kuwaiti soldier pointed a gun at the two Brits, said something to them in Arabic, laughed, and walked away leaving them shaken but unharmed.